Tag Archives: Rebuilding Ireland

From top: Social Democrats co-leaders Catherine Murphy (left) and Róisín Shortall; Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

This morning.

Bryan Dobson interviewed Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland ahead of the Social Democrats’ motion of no confidence in him this evening.

The Department of Housing’s homeless figures show there were a total of 9,724 individuals in emergency accommodation in October 2018.

In November 2018, the figure was 9,968; in December 2018, 9,753; in January 2019,  9,987; in February 2019, 10,264; in March 2019, 10,305; in April 2019, 10,378; in May 2019, 10,253; in June 2019, 10,172; in July 2019, 10,275; in August 2019, 10,338; in September 2019, 10,397.

The figures for October 2019 have yet to be released even though they were expected to be last week.

At the beginning of the interview, Mr Murphy called the motion “opportunistic” and “reckless”.

From the interview…

Eoghan Murphy: “We’re talking about a party which never once questioned me on Rebuilding Ireland on the Joint Oireachtas committee, the programme that I’ve been implementing now for the last two and a half years, that never put down one amendment on the residential, the rent reform bill that I brought earlier this year.

“And we know that the majority of people who are coming into emergency accommodation are coming from the private rental sector. I brought through reforms to protect those people. They didn’t put down one amendment and we know as well that Social Democrat candidates and public representatives, including Roisin Shortall who was on earlier, are objecting to housing in their own constituency.”

Bryan Dobson: “Well they have put down this motion and just in relation to what it might mean for the Government. There’s no question of you standing aside, allowing the Government to survive. It would mean the end of the Government, a defeat tonight.”

Murphy: “Bryan this is a stunt from the Social Democrats. Rebuilding Ireland is working to fundamentally increase the supply of housing in a sustainable way and driving a programme and reforming…”

Dobson: “And we’ll come to that. Just in relation to the politics, it will depend then obviously on the votes of Michael Lowry, for example, who as we know, is convicted of tax offences; of Noel Grealish to support you, whose comments recently on immigrants you described as “disgusting” and “potentially dangerous”. Those are the sort of people you need to go through the lobbies to keep you in Government.”

Murphy: “And my own colleagues in Fine Gael. We’re a minority Government, Bryan. And we get the support from different elements, different parties, different individuals in the House on any given vote. Each vote is different and each vote should be taken on its own merits.”

Dobson: “Right. And just…Dara Murphy, you expect him to be there? Your colleague?”

Murphy: “I do.”

Dobson: “The motion is in relation to confidence in you as minister. And you stand presumably on your record, so let’s look a little bit at your record. First in relation to homelessness.

“In June 2017, when you came into office, there were 7,900 people in emergency accommodation. At the end of September [2019], the most recent figures, that figure had risen to 10,397.

“Now that’s your record. Why would that inspire confidence?”

Murphy: “On that particular issue alone and I think we need to separate out housing and increasing the supply of housing and what’s happening in emergency accommodation because it’s more complex. Since I’ve been minister more than 12,000 people have exited homelessness. So while there has been an increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation and no one is happy about that, far many more people have been taken out of housing an security because of the work that we have done.

“Another thing to look at as well, is if you look at the 12 months before Rebuilding Ireland, the increase in the number of children going into emergency accommodation increased by 50 per cent. In the last 12 months, it’s increased by one per cent.

“That huge difference, in terms of the number of people going into emergency accommodation  is because of Rebuilding Ireland, because it is building new home and it’s supporting people in other ways who might be in housing insecurity.”

Dobson:It’s still the case though that there are close-on 3,900 children in emergency accommodation and we know from recent study carried out by the Royal Holloway Hospital in London that that has very significant or can have very significant implications for their development.

“They reported they couldn’t crawl or walk because of lack of space. That they didn’t have the ability to chew because they didn’t have access to the kind of food that they should be getting access to. That’s really a dreadful situation for any children to be in.”

Murphy: “Of course, and if we hadn’t had Rebuilding Ireland in place, if we hadn’t this programme to increase the supply of homes, that number would be much, much higher. But because we are increasing house building, we’re able to prevent more people from going into emergency accommodation so one in two families, only two families that came into homeless services this year, we found a home for one immediately.

“Regrettably another family went into emergency accommodation. But so far this year, 900 families have left emergency accommodation so a huge amount of work is being done to try and protect people in housing and security and if we didn’t have a plan that wouldn’t be happening.

“And the Opposition [inaudible] Rebuilding Ireland but they haven’t presented their own plan to replace it. And they haven’t changed one thing that I had done. We are the minority, we discussed earlier, they could change my plan and they haven’t.”

Dobson: “We also know that 45% of families in emergency accommodation are spending more than a year there. The figure is 15% for those who spend more than two years. So people are trapped in long-term homelessness here.”

Murphy: “So the majority are spending less than a year based on the figure you just gave to me. And that’s the important thing to point out. More than 50% of families in emergency accommodation are there for less than 12 months. It shouldn’t be any period at all but we don’t have the houses built yet. I mean we had a point inside very recently where the construction sector was basically non existent and almost nothing was being built.

“In a short period of time, we’ve had to rebuild the sector, build homes, and it’s at a time of net immigration as well. But the news now, under Rebuilding Ireland, is that the number of homes being built is dramatically increasing and that’s how we fix this problem. If you’re in a family hub, you’re spending an average of six months, and a family hub is the preferred option over a hotel and we’re rolling out family hubs all the time…”

Dobson: “And we’ve been hearing this, we heard it a year ago when you last defended yourself against a no confidence motion. We’ve been hearing it year after year from other previous ministers as well and yet the numbers still continue to rise. The plan, it seems, is not adequate to the challenge.”

Murphy: “The point about the numbers, Bryan, is that things were at risk of exploding. And the NGOs over the summer said that they were worried that the numbers of people in emergency accommodation was going to explode and they acknowledged that that didn’t happen. They’ve essentially remained almost flat for the last year because we have been able to build more homes. We’ve been able to stop the number of people going into emergency accommodation and now help people out.

“But we have to build more homes to get those people out of emergency accommodation and on that point, the CSO does the counting and those numbers don’t lie.”


Murphy:Rebuilding Ireland isn’t four or five years old yet, OK. So what we’re doing is increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000 homes under Rebuilding Ireland and in the final year of Rebuilding Ireland which is 2021, which isn’t very long away, we’ll house more people in social housing homes than we will through the private rental sector. That’s the turnaround that we’re facing.”

Listen back in full here



On the letter’s page in this morning’s Irish Times...

I attended court with a young homeless boy who had been charged with theft of a bottle of orange, value €1.

Another homeless man was charged with theft of four bars of chocolate, value €3.

Another homeless man was charged with theft of two packets of Silk Cut cigarettes.

A TD, on his way to, or from, his full-time, very well paid job in Brussels, stops by at Dáil Éireann to sign in, so that he can collect his full €51,600 expenses for his attendance in the Dáil.

Fr Peter McVerry SJ,
Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice,
Gardiner Street,
Dublin 1.

A tale of two cities (Irish Times letters page)

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

This morning and afternoon.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government.

His appearance follows a report on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday in which journalist Louise Byrne reported that, according to documents she obtained under Freedom Of Information, the Department of Housing – in a briefing note dated January 31, 2019, to its press office – said further approvals under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme are not currently being issued for these particular loans.

Specifically, the memo said the department “has been advised that no further approvals should issue for now”.

These loans allow first-time buyers to borrow up to 90 per cent of a property’s value from their local authority. The conditions to secure one of these loans includes that the borrower has to show they’ve been turned down for mortgage approval by two banks, while gross earnings cannot exceed €50,000 for a single person or €75,000 for a couple.

Yesterday, in response to questions from Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin about this memo and – specifically Mr Martin claiming Mr Murphy didn’t tell the Dáil that no further approvals were to be issued, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government needs to decide whether to increase the scheme’s initial cap of €200m, and it needs to consult with the Central Bank.

Further to this…

Mr Murphy told the committee this morning that the scheme is not closed, money for the scheme has not run out and people can still apply for these loans.

He also told committee member Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien, who claimed to be possession of a copy of the memo obtained by RTÉ, is not his memo.

He said:

“I’m telling you I don’t know what the memo is, I’m telling you it didn’t come from my department. That’s what I’ve been informed. I’m telling you that memo did not come from my department…

“I don’t have the memo, it’s not my memo…

“It’s not my memo. The FOI was released by DEPR [Department of Public Expenditure and Reform] not by my department. It’s not my memo.”

Earlier, Mr O’Brien asked Mr Murphy not to take the public for fools and said there are 100s of people who are concerned about the loan applications under the scheme.

Mr Murphy said:

“Any confusion here has been caused by people asking questions that they either know the answers to or want to cause confusion.”

He also said:

“I’m genuinely surprised about how this was reported yesterday. The scheme is not closed, funding has not run out and I’ve been very clear about how it’s progressing.”

Watch live here

Yesterday: ‘It’s Low-Income People Being Let Down Again’

This morning.

Iveagh House, Dublin 2

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy (left) with Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe arriving for the launch of Home Building Finance Ireland….

… the state’s new financing initiative for the residential construction sector, will offer loans of up to €35m to house builders.

HBFI has been established to fill a funding gap for smaller builders. It will lend to developments of as few as 10 houses or apartments. The company’s website, which went live on Friday, states that it is open for expressions of interest.

HBFI will be funded with €750m from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (Isif). A borrowing entity must provide a minimum of 20% equity of a building project, which can include the site value. HBFI will provide up to 80% of the project cost.

Home Building Finance Ireland to lend up to €35m to house builders (Niall Brady, The Times Ireland edition)



This morning.

College of Anaesthesiologists (!), Dublin 2.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy (fourth left) with the Interim Board of the LDA (Land Development Agency) ahead of the first meeting of the Board

Leah Farrell/RollingNews

From top: Tánaiste and former Minister for Housing Simon Coveney announcing funding as part of Rebuilding Ireland last year; Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy at another announcement about the initiative earlier this year

Sarah Bardon, in The Irish Times, writes:

The [Rebuilding Ireland] plan, which was launched by former minister for housing Simon Coveney, aimed to eliminate homelessness and to rapidly increase the supply of housing, most particularly social housing, by 2021.

At that point, in July 2016, some 6,525 people were homeless. The average price of purchasing a home across the country was €215,000; in Dublin it was €314,311. The average rent had tipped €1,000 and there were fewer than 3,100 properties available to let nationwide.

Currently, there are 9,846 people homeless, according to the latest statistics. The average house price nationwide is €254,000; in Dublin it is €374,885.

The most recent figures show the average rent is €1,261 and there are 3,086 rental properties on the market.

Has the Government’s plan to end homelessness achieved anything? (The Irish Times)


Thanks Ronan


This morning.

Government Buildings. Merrion Street, Dublin 2

Sinn Féin TDs Eoin O Broin (centre left) and David Cullinane (right) and party members ‘celebrate’ the second anniversary of ‘Rebuilding Ireland’.


Luas security worker Mark Conlon, from Clondalkin, Dublin, runs 33 marathons in 33 days to raise awareness about homelessness.

Money raised by Mark will go to the Peter McVerry Trust.

In fairness.


Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Bróin tweetz:

Rebuilding Ireland isn’t working. Two years on & homelessness is up 50%, pensioner homelessness up 53%, child homelessness up 63%. It is time for a new plan.


 Ruth Coppinger TD

That action plan on housing.

End of local authority housing as we know it, three quarters of council land to be privatised, no challenge to EU rules and rocketing rents to remain.

What’s not to love?

Ruth Coppinger  writes:

The government’s Action Plan on Housing sadly repeats the failed focus on incentivising the market through increasing the profit of developers and landlords.

The market caused the crisis, now this neoliberal government turns to it to resolve it.

Given the scale of the housing emergency, the poverty of ambition is startling, considering also the much-lauded economic growth. The aim is to house only one-third of those on current lists by 2021.

Presumably the rest can just wait another 10! The figure of 47,000 ‘social houses’ is a mix of new-builds, refurbishments, acquisitions and leasing, the latter often impermanent. It falls short of even the Housing Committee target and adds on another year.

As I pointed out with the Housing Committee Report, funding and delivery is dependent on keeping within strict EU fiscal rules.

The Plan confesses that while the housing emergency has been raging, the Dept has scandalously spent two years trying to come up with a workable off-balance sheet model to do this.

If implemented, this will mark the end of local authority housing as we know it. Not alone will ‘additional social housing provision (be) a combination of building, acquiring and leasing’, but councils will not be directly funded and allowed to fully build on their own land.

They will be forced to hand over 75% of it to private developers. A new form of housing estate will be created on public lands: only 25% will be council housing and the rest private mortgages and affordable/’cost rental’ where tenants will pay up to 80% of the market rent, rather than a differential rent based on their income.

The key to resolving the housing emergency is to use council and Nama lands, for councils to directly employ labour and build on public lands on a large scale, cutting out the private developers cut (often 11-15% ) and keeping costs down.

The document is laced with stigmatising phrases about council housing, such as ghettoisation and not repeating ‘mistakes of past’.

But if social housing is limited to 25%, we would have to build 560,000 houses to clear the 140,000 on the council’s lists!

Local authority estates can be highly successful if well planned with facilities and open space. The income eligibility could be raised allowing more workers avail of affordable mortgages or council rents.

But there is never a concern for ‘tenure mix’ in Killiney or Malahide.

The real reason for the ‘tenure mix’ is to have a rental funding stream to achieve the neo-liberal ‘off balance sheet’ rule.

For the 6,000 people in emergency accommodation, there is little except more overpriced modular or transient housing. The emphasis is on forcing people onto HAP or private rental, potentially miles away from the family’s choice of area.

Despite the Private Rented Sector being the cause of homelessness, the government promotes it, extolling it’s virtue of supporting “a mobile labour market, as renting households may more easily pursue job opportunities.” It ignores the interests of workers and families who want to live in a fixed community.

Instead of rent controls to stop the huge hikes which are making people homeless, the Plan proposes no measures to curb profiteering on rents, it defends and promotes landlord interests by continuing the use of the private sector as a substitute for public housing, alongside introducing a new range of tax breaks to ‘incentivise’ landlords. No moratorium either on repossessions.

Rather than driving down the cost of housing to affordable levels, a ‘help to buy’ initiative for first time buyers would end up in the pockets of developers.

Michael Noonan told the Housing Committee ‘we do not have a shortage of money’. He is right. €5.4 billion is sitting in the Irish Strategic Investment Fund – the remnants of the pension reserve fund after it bailed out the banks.

But he admitted that EU fiscal rules prevent us actually spending it on public housing. It must be ‘off balance sheet ‘ and involve the private sector or be self financing. The same goes for the €2.4bn cash reserves Nama has left.

Neither do EU fiscal rules prevent taxation on wealth being used to finance housing. So, a millionaire’s tax could be introduced. The headline rate of corporation tax could be immediately imposed and increased to house our homeless.

The government could stop its opposition to Apple repaying €17 billion in back taxes to this country. There is vast untapped and untaxed wealth that could be used to fund affordable and secure home building.

Only a government that is willing to challenge and breach those rules can end our housing emergency.

That government is not this government.

Ruth Coppinger is a member of the Socialist Party and an Anti Austerity Alliance TD for Dublin West. She has occupied Nama housing with homeless families. Ruth is a member of the Housing Committee and has published her own housing Minority Report. Follow Ruth on Twitter: @ruthcoppingertd