Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy
In the Irish Mail on Sunday.
The newspaper’s political correspondent Craig Hughes reported that Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin had accused Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy of “manipulating social housing figures“.
It followed Mr Murphy saying on Friday that 10,000 social homes were provided last year – 6,545 new builds, 1,325 “acquisitions” and 2,130 houses “that local authorities and approved housing bodies acquired through long-term leases”.
Mr Murphy has said that, if he’s re-elected, 60,000 social houses will be delivered over the next five years.
However, Mr Hughes reported that Mr Ó Broin has called this pledge into question, writing:
But Deputy Ó Broin claimed that Minister Murphy is wrong to include more than 2,000 homes that had been acquired through long-term leasing.
According to the deputy, social houses acquired through long-terms leasing should not be included in the social housing delivery figures.
“In 2016 the cross party Housing and Homelessness Committees’ report very clearly defined social housing as housing that is owned by the council or AHB [approved housing body]. It’s only Minister Murphy and his Government that defines social housing any differently.”
Mr Ó Broin was reported as saying:
“The owner of a long-term lease property can withdraw, so you can’t categorise it as social housing as it is not owned by the local authority or approved housing body and ends up costing the taxpayer two to three times the price.”
Mr Hughes reported that the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan pledged to deliver 25,000 new homes (private and social) every years between 2017 and 2021 but that it failed to reach its target every year.
He also reported that the number of new homes built in 2019 is estimated to be between 20,000 and 21,000 but the final figures have yet to be released.
In addition, Mr Hughes reported that although a spokesman for Mr Murphy had pledged to provide Mr Hughes with a breakdown of the latest social housing figures – which were finalised last week – no figures were provided.
The spokesman said Mr Ó Broin’s comments were “regrettable” and misleading, adding: “Long-term leases are for 20-30 years with an option to renew. They are social houses and as secure as any other”.