Concerns within the Government that its 10-year housing plan was being rushed and would be vulnerable to Opposition attack led to the surprise decision on Thursday to postpone its publication for several weeks.
The Housing for All publication, which will determine the State’s housing policy and plans until 2030, was due to be published next Tuesday but is now not likely to be launched until late August or early September.
The last-minute decision, announced by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, was immediately seized on by the Opposition as a sign of tensions between the three Coalition parties on the plan, which will replace Rebuilding Ireland.
The Government has denied there are any divisions on funding or, indeed, on any other aspects of the plan but the late withdrawal is being seen as a setback.
It has also led to Fianna Fáil backbenchers expressing private suspicions that Fine Gael has been obstructive. That claim has been rejected by Fine Gael.
A senior Government figure from the party said it had no objections to the shape of the plan or to its finances. “It’s simply the case that the Minister [Mr O’Brien] set too early a target for its launch and they just could not finish it on time,” said the source.
“If it was not watertight we would be open to the overall plan being damaged by minor enough weaknesses .”
A spokeswoman for Mr O’Brien said the launch of the policy was being put back in order to allow for more work to be done on the package of reforms next month.
“Work is continuing on the Housing for All plan. It’s a multi-annual plan, to 2030, and a fully-funded plan with a number of departments feeding into it and this work will continue throughout August,” she said.
“There are a number of iterations and we are working our way through the drafts. There are some things that need agreement that are still under discussion.”
Sources said elements still to be concluded focused on the development of rural towns, sustainable retrofitting and planning reform.
There were also political concerns that a major launch in the run-up to the August bank-holiday weekend would not have the desired impact with the public.
The plan envisages a raft of new policies to tackle homelessness, affordable home ownership, public and social housing and reforms to the rental sector, including the development of the cost rental sector.
Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said it was incredible the plan had not been published.
“We have had a year of promises and half-baked legislation but no indication of the new social and affordable housing targets for each year from 2022,” he said.
“For all their faults at least Fine Gael had a housing plan published within 100 days of taking office. At this stage it appears that the plan is being held up by further wrangling between the Coalition partners.”
The Fianna Fáil TD for Dún Laoghaire, Cormac Devlin, in a post on Twitter said it was “frustrating to see our Housing for All plan delayed again. Those delaying the plan won’t be thanked by people waiting to buy affordable homes or access cost rental schemes.”
Other Fianna Fáil TDs seemed to attribute the delays to Fine Gael. However, Government sources said none of the parties had major issues with any element of the plan or financing. “There has been no drama or walk-outs,” insisted a senior official. “We have not been banging the table.”
It is understood the new likely date for publication is the end of August, or early September.
A cross-departmental group, chaired by Martin Fraser, secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, will meet next week to finalise elements of the plan.