Banks should take account of the high levels of rent paid by people who are also saving for a house deposit when granting mortgage approval, according to Fianna Fáil.
Darragh O’Brien, the party’s housing spokesman, gave a presentation to TDs and Senators on the second day of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party think-in in Gorey, Co Wexford.
He listed a number of proposals under the headings of increasing the affordability of homes, boosting housing supply generally and supporting home ownership.
The proposals include an “affordable rent scheme on State land” as well as “recognising rent payments in mortgage approvals”.
It is understood that the party has written to the Central Bank requesting that it take a firmer line in instructing lenders to take account of monthly rental payments when deciding to grant mortgage approval.
Earlier this year Taoiseach Leo Varadkar raised the prospect of the Central Bank changing its rules on mortgage lending to cover people paying high rents while also saving for a mortgage deposit.
The rules curtail mortgages to 3½ times a buyer’s salary and to a minimum deposit of 10 per cent from first-time purchasers and 20 per cent from other buyers.
Banks are allowed discretion on a certain volume of lending, allowing borrowers higher loan-to-income and loan-to-value figures, but these loans are quickly snapped up.
“I do think one aspect of the mortgage rules that is very tough is the fact that you are expected to show that you are saving at the same time that you are renting,” the Taoiseach said last July.
Mr O’Brien’s presentation to his colleagues means the two largest parties in the Dáil are now pressurising the Central Bank to take some sort of action for those who are saving while renting.
Separately, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has claimed his past achievements as minister for health are far more significant than anything Simon Harris or Mr Varadkar achieved in the Department of Health.
He made the claim in response to Mr Harris’s criticism of Mr Martin’s record in a number of government departments. In governments led by Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, Mr Martin served as senior minister in the departments of education, health, enterprise and foreign affairs.
Speaking at a public health event in Dublin on Tuesday, Mr Harris had accused Mr Martin of failing to stop “illegal charges in nursing homes” during his tenure in the Department of Health.
“He brought in cruel cuts. He invented and created the bureaucratic organisation that is the HSE,” Mr Harris said.
“I’m now having to dismantle the failed structures he created. I’m not conned and the Irish people are not conned.
“I’m not going to allow Micheál Martin engage in revisionism. He’s going to have to be held to account for what he did in health and in other posts, such as foreign affairs, when he lost the Lisbon Treaty [referendum in 2008].”
Mr Martin and Fianna Fáil have criticised the Government’s record on spending in health, and have said they will seek transparency in this year’s budget negotiations.
Under the confidence-and-supply agreement, Fianna Fáil support is needed to pass the budget, which takes place on October 8th this year.
“I think he has been a very poor Minister on a number of fronts,” Mr Martin said of Mr Harris, adding that Fianna Fáil governments had made improvements in cancer and cardiovascular care and other areas.
“And then in public health measures like the smoking ban and so on. Those were effective interventions in health and I can’t point to similar interventions from Simon Harris or indeed from Leo Varadkar when he was minister for health.”
Meanwhile, the Fianna Fáil constituencies committee has added two more candidates to its general election ticket in Wexford. Malcom Byrne, who ran in Ireland South in the European elections, and Michael Sheehan will run alongside Lisa McDonald and sitting TD James Browne. Mr Byrne is tipped to be the party’s candidate in the upcoming byelection in Wexford, which follows the election of the former Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace to the European Parliament.