Dublin City Council calls on Government to declare housing emergency
Council wants Government to provide €2.3bn in budget and ban evictions
Fine Gael councillor Pat McCartan said a decade ago the economy collapsed and, for the following eight years, there was no construction activity. Photograph: Reuters
Motions for the Government to declare a housing emergency and provide €2.3 billion for housing in the coming budget were passed by Dublin City councillors on Monday night.
A motion, which also called for “emergency legislation to make it illegal to evict anybody into homelessness” was approved by 28 votes to two. It also called for a number of urgent actions including “a referendum to enshrine the right to public housing in the Constitution”.
It called for a Government programme to build public housing on public land while “aggressively” targeting the return of vacant council houses to active use.
However, Fianna Fáil Councillor Tom Brabazon warned the calls for action were “only calls” and would not in themselves “build a single new home”.
Mr Brabazon said the motion seemed to be a response to recent moves by the Government to blame local councils for the housing crisis. While calling “for €2.3 billion will give you confidence”, the call itself would “not build one house”.
Mr Brabazon said councillors were well intentioned but needed “to wrestle full responsibility” for housing from the “senior civil servants” who, he said, had not delivered. He said the 63 members of the council and its staff were more familiar with the problem than “anybody at [the Department of Housing at] Custom House Quay and the Department of Finance”.
Proposing the motion, councillor Daithí Doolan (SF) said it was necessary to declare an emergency and match this with funding.
Mr Doolan told the council the Department of Housing had become “a hindrance” and there was “no sense of emergency among senior civil servants”.
Ciarán Cuffe of the Green Party said the housing crisis was the result of a “swing to the right” by successive governments who, he said, had abandoned public housing.
Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the council needed to tell the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin it needed church land to build housing.
Fine Gael councillor Pat McCartan said a decade ago the economy collapsed and, for the following eight years, there was no construction activity. He said this year 18,000 houses would be delivered and next year that would rise to 25,000. While he said this was not enough, “it is a reasonable start as any fair-minded person would say”.
For the city management, Brendan Kenny said the issue was not money but the obstacles to delivery of housing. Council executive manager Anthony Flynn said planning arrangements meant delivering 100 apartments on a site could take 5½ years and the executive would like to see this reduced. He said a current proposal to build 1,500 houses would “test the capacity of the system”.