Leo Varadkar says housing crisis keeps him awake at night

Taoiseach also tells ‘The Late Late Show’ he does not think the HSE is fit for purpose

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said working on solutions to address the homelessness crisis kept him awake at night.

“Particularly when it comes to kids, people find it [homelessness] offensive, and I find it offensive too that children are in emergency accommodation. That impacts on their education and lots of other things,” he said during an interview on RTÉ’s Late Late Show on Friday.

Mr Varadkar also said housebuilding needed to be “ramped up” but he was not willing to cut corners to solve the housing crisis.

“One thing we don’t want to do . . . is to bring back 100 per cent mortgages, because we don’t have enough supply. If we got rid of the bank rules that require a 10 per cent deposit, you would find more people borrowing more but still competing for the same houses,” he said.

“We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past with unaffordable mortgages, negative equity, or ramp up housing in a way that cuts corners because that’s how we get ghost estates, pyrite, mica and Priory Hall,” he said.

He said couples on an average wage should be able to afford a home.

Not fit for purpose

When asked if he thought the HSE was fit for purpose, he said: “Not as the organisation that it is now, and we have a plan to change that. It’s an all-party plan called Sláintecare and it sets out a 10-year plan. The big structural change is to slim down the HSE and have a lot more decision-making at local level,” he said.

“It’s not the best structure to provide our health services. There’s a difference between the organisation and the people in it and I don’t want to say anything about the people or send out the wrong message.”

When asked about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, he said there is "no doubt" a no-deal scenario would be bad for Ireland.

“Some preparation is under way but no country could ever be fully prepared for a no-deal – and there won’t be a no-deal Brexit,” he said.