“This Is A Challenge Many Countries Are Facing”

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From top: Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary; Tánaiste Simon Coveney

This afternoon.

In the Dáil, during Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fail’s deputy leader Dara Calleary raised the latest homelessness figures with the Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

During his contribution, Mr Calleary mentioned an interview the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy’s gave RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning in which Mr Murphy accused journalist Bryan Dobson of speaking from an “ideological” position when the broadcaster asked the politician about the Government’s record on housing and homelessness.

Mr Calleary asked Mr Coveney to “finally ‘fess up” and admit the Government’s housing plan Rebuilding Ireland – launched when Mr Coveney was Minister for Housing in 2016 – is not working.

Mr Coveney said nobody is denying the facts and the figures of homelessness in Ireland, and the emotion attached to the same, before going on to cite Rebuilding Ireland figures.

He then said:

“The truth is, deputy, we are listening to others in this house and, indeed, experts outside it. Rebuilding Ireland was always a policy initiative that would change, depending on where the pressures and demands were coming from and that is what it’s doing.

“But if you look at the number of people that we are taking out of homeless right now, it’s a higher figure than ever before.

“If you look at the number of social houses that are being delivered, it’s higher than at any point in the last decade.

The truth is there are more families and individuals coming into homelessness now than I think anyone in this house predicted.”

Mr Calleary told Mr Coveney his response was the same response he gave in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Mr Coveney said there is work to be done but the Government has “changed the housing market in Ireland” with rent pressure zones and increasing the powers of the Residential Tenancies Board.

He also said Rebuilding Ireland was a five-year housing plan and the Government is only three years into it.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty also raised the homelessness figures and also raised Minister Murphy’s interview on Morning Ireland.

He called on the Government to support a bill proposed by Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin – aimed at preventing buy-to-let landlords from evicting tenants.

Mr Coveney said:

The truth is that this State is not the only one facing this challenge. Last year, almost 20,000 households approached housing bodies in Northern Ireland because they consider themselves homeless… and solutions have to be found there as well as here. This is a challenge that many countries are facing.”

Mr Coveney also insisted Mr O Broin’s bill will not work “legally or in practical terms”.

Watch back here

28 thoughts on ““This Is A Challenge Many Countries Are Facing”

  1. GiggidyGoo

    Aaaannnnn Coveney tries the usual ‘Look Over There’ route. Coveney was the one who put a July 2018 (or was it 2017?) date for no one that was homeless to be in hotel accommodation. And he is the one taking questions ?

    1. henry

      And the twenty thousand houses to be ready at the end of this year?

      And brexit around the corner

  2. Col

    This government has completely dropped the ball on housing in this country. They sat idly by while house prices spiralled out of control (83% increase since the crash, according to the Independent).
    This has had drastic knock on consequences, including this shameful increase in homelessness.
    Coveney has to take his share of the blame here.

      1. Col

        Don’t make excuses for their incompetence.
        If I hear one more person say “it’s an unsolvable problem” …

  3. Iwerzon

    Here’s an idea – Landlords currently pay 52% tax on their property (a rent of €1,600 a month, landlord gets €770 in his hand). Scrap this rate completely for all rental property under €900 a month. This incentive, when regulated, will attract new landlords and renters can afford quality accommodation and will spend more in the local economy. The cost of this compared to the sticking plaster solutions and hotel bills the Government is currently racking up will be worth it.

      1. henry

        Why not another all renters are allowed to offset their rent against income?
        This would firstly ensure all landlords would be in the nets for tax as the tax number of the landlord would have to be given
        For the worker to claim against their taxes

        It would also get rid of rogue landlords

        1. SOQ

          No no no. You must never EVER suggest that the generation who are being screwed should be given a break. Sure they’d be looking an affordable house within a reasonable commute if you gave them notions like that.

          Give it to the landlords, much better.

    1. Junkface

      This sounds like an idea worth trying, but there’s only ever one item on the agenda in Irish Government politics : Don’t rock the boat.

    2. Andrew

      We should be making it more affordable for people to buy homes to live in. Not incentivising a rent seeking parasitical class.
      People going on about landlords exiting the market, seem to think the property disappears with them. Someone else will buy it!! Either to live in or rent out again.
      Spare me the poor landlord routine.

      1. Iwerzon

        Andrew, my dear, you are part of the problem. I’m more interested in the renter, like me (“rent seeking parasitical class”), who would like to rent somewhere affordable and if that means giving the landlords a tax break in order for me to afford a comfortable, quality home then so be it. I think the key thing in any of this is regulation.

        1. Andrew

          Why am I part of the problem? You’re failing to join dots spectacularly. The more people able to buy affordable homes, the more of them leave the rental sector. Can you see where I’m going here?
          Most people don’t want to rent indefinitely.

          1. Iwerzon

            Looking down on renters as a ‘parasitical class’ could be a bit problematic my dear Andrew. People should be able to rent indefinitely like most other European countries and not be labelled as inferior for choosing to do so because of an ingrained Irish post-colonial belief that owning property is the end all and be all of our existence.

          2. Mick

            Yeah, rent forever, a great idea… but what happens when you retire and your pension just won’t cut it and the rent keeps rising. Good luck with dealing with homelessness at that age

          3. Andrew

            Okay. I see you are misunderstanding me and the term rent it’s the opposite of what you think it means. That’s fine. I’ll leave it there. I’m glad I didn’t use the term ‘rentier class’ .

          4. Andrew

            Okay. I see you are misunderstanding me and the term ‘rent seekers’. That’s fine. I’ll leave it there. I’m glad I didn’t use the term ‘rentier class’ .

      1. SOQ

        The bottom (Excel) line is that as a nation, we value owning our own home over near everything else.

        That international investment funds are allowed skew the property market is an absolute disgrace.

        They are banned in the UK so why not here?

  4. Dr Gonzo

    36% of Fine Gael TD’s are landlords or make money renting out property. The highest rate of landlordism of any of the political parties.

    People talk about the situation like Fine Gael is trying and failing to deliver affordable housing. Truth I suspect is the system is working as they intended. If a housing body comes out and says we need 40,000 new houses in the next few years to keep up with demand and Fine Gael commit to a target of 20,000 new houses. They can claim they building new properties and making progress, but house and rental prices will still be going crazy and over a third of their own TD’s will get income from inflated prices.

    This is a classic conflict of interest.

    Once you become a TD you should have to divest from any private investments to serve the public. Even in the US (with a lot of this sort of corruption) when the current Defence Secretary Patrick Shanhan got the top job at the Pentagon, he needed to divest from his shares in Boeing (where he worked for 30 years) because you couldn’t have a Pentagon chief signing billion dollar deals with Boeing while holding Boeing shares.

    1. Iwerzon

      I know quite a proportion of TDs are landlords, some TDs are managing a portfolio of commercial and residential properties yet they are allowed to debate and vote on housing legislation. This is not OK.

  5. Termagant

    “But if you look at the number of people that we are taking out of homeless right now, it’s a higher figure than ever before.”

    And it’s still not keeping up with the rate of increase in homelessness, what does that tell you

  6. SOQ

    The RTB do their bit but is their some sort of renters association? You are supposed to be the connected generation so get your act together please. NOW .!.

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