Children facing into a Christmas ‘they don’t deserve’, Dáil hears

Tánaiste rejects renewed Sinn Féin call for rent freeze during debate on housing

Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty: ‘Too many children are facing into a Christmas they don’t deserve in emergency accommodation.’  File Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty: ‘Too many children are facing into a Christmas they don’t deserve in emergency accommodation.’ File Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Introducing a rent freeze would not get a single child out of a hub or hotel room, Tánaiste Simon Coveney insisted as he rejected Sinn Féin’s call to ban rent increases.

During heated Dáil exchanges he said it would undermine what they were trying to do to increase housing stock.

In the final day before the four Dáil byelections, Mr Coveney hit out at a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing is to be debated next week.

He described it as an effort to “raise political profiles” in advance of the byelections on Friday but he said it “misses the point”.

“We do have a housing crisis and have had one for quite some time and Government has responded by driving supply,” he said to heckling.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Pearse Doherty called on the Tánaiste to “get your head out of the sand” and said that “too many children are facing into a Christmas they don’t deserve in emergency accommodation, some for the fourth year in a row”.

He highlighted the Social Justice Ireland conference report of “toddlers who cannot crawl, children who cannot walk” because they are in cramped hotel conditions or B & Bs.

Their development was being stunted and their futures stolen and some children would be in emergency accommodation for the fourth year in a row.

Mr Doherty said homelessness had risen 67 per cent since the Government took office and child homeless had increased by 81 per cent.

Calling for the Government to “belatedly” introduce a rent freeze he said they had risen to €2,000 a month in Dublin and €1,300 in Cork. This “has locked a whole generation into an out of control rental market”.

He asked how could young people ever hope to secure the average €87,000 deposit now required for a new house. A rent freeze would give them time and space to build a deposit.

And he repeated Opposition accusations that the Government had failed to deliver on housing and its Rebuilding Ireland programme was not working.

But the Tánaiste insisted that “the facts don’t bear that out” and the programme he introduced when minister for housing was making progress.

Prices were decreasing in Dublin and slowing across the country and they were prioritising first-time buyers with 15,000 new homes secured under the Government’s programme.

“We are spending next year €2.68 billion on the housing budget, which is multiple of what it was only three years ago.”

Some 50,000 new homes had been built over three years with an 82 per cent increase in new homes. Some 10,000 new council homes are being built this year with 11,000 next year and 12,000 the year after.