Fine Gael has portrayed the Dublin Bay South byelection as a choice for voters between it and Sinn Féin, which, it claims, is opposed to everything, and in support of nothing.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe attacked Sinn Féin’s economic policies suggesting they were nihilist.
“Sinn Féin, when it comes to economics, are for nothing. They are against everything. They want to make progress on the climate crisis yet they are against everything in terms of carbon taxation.
“They want to make progress on housing, which we all want to do, but want to abolish local property tax,” he said.
Mr Donohoe was talking at a media event to mark the calling for the writ for the election, which will take place on July 8th. He was accompanied by the party’s candidate Cllr James Geoghegan and Dublin MEP Frances Fitzgerald
Mr Donohoe focused his comments on a direct criticism of Sinn Féin. “They are against all the measures that lay the foundations for us to be able to help our country at its time of need.
“We are catching people as they fall but helping them bounce back and recover. That’s what the Government’s job will be for the coming year.”
Ms Fitzgerald continued that theme arguing there was a lack of clarity from Sinn Féin on the status of the Special Criminal Court. “People are tired of the critical and adversarial voice of Sinn Féin without offering a constructive alternative,” she said.
Mr Geoghegan said his priorities were to get the country reopened, to promote the idea of a “15-minute city” for Dublin, to hold on to the sense of community, and to the strengthening of urban villages that has happened during the Covid-19 crisis, and to work towards providing affordable homes for people.
He said there was a big opportunity for Dublin Bay South with the development of 3,500 homes on the former glass bottle site, 500 of which would be affordable. He said that affordable homes had been delivered in O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7 for between €265,000 and €300,000 and he hoped it would be the same on this site in Poolbeg.
Asked about a figure of €600,000 being mentioned for the affordable homes on the glass bottle site, he replied: “Under no circumstances would €600,000 be an affordable house.
“What I would like to see on that site are the types of prices we have already seen delivered in O’Devaney Gardens.
“We need affordable homes on that site.”
Asked about Local Property Tax, Mr Geoghegan said there had been support for the decision that all of the monies raised by the tax would go back into Dublin City, rather than being siphoned off elsewhere under equalisation arrangements.
Mr Donohoe defended the decision not to defer a revaluation saying it had already been done three times. Referring to homes built since 2013, which have not been subject to any property tax he said that raised a “real issue of equity” for homes which had continued to pay tax.
On Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohans’ strong views on antigen testing, Mr Donohoe said there was a variety of opinions but it took very seriously the view of the CMO.
“I think as we move through the year we will see a broader use of antigen testing.
“At this point it is increasingly likely that antigen testing will not fully take the place of PCR tests. If we are successful in the scale of vaccination we want to deliver, then the need for broader antigen testing will begin to diminish,” he said.
Asked about the cost implications of an open-ended compensation scheme for homes affected by mica he said he recognised the deep challenges and stress and anxiety faced by those families affected by defective blocks.
However he said the reality was the cost of this to the taxpayer would be really significant. “We are going to work hard to get that balance right,” he said.