Martin: Coveney should do own job, rather than give Kenny deadlines

FF leader highlights ‘a child goes homeless every five hours’ in January

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin sharply criticised Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, one of the Fine Gael leadership contenders, about his concentration on his job.

Mr Martin said Mr Coveney had been giving Taoiseach Enda Kenny a timeline for his departure when he should focus and concentrate on his own job as Minister for Housing.

Highlighting the homelessness crisis he cited figures that a child was becoming homeless every five hours in January.

And he said that homelessness had risen by 25 per cent in the past year.


He hit out at Fine Gael’s concentration on its leadership crisis and said they should all concentrate on doing the jobs they had.

"One Minister wants to get out of health," he said of the row over the Fine Gael WhatsApp group message by Minister Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan about Minister for Health Simon Harris.

TDs laughed as Mr Flanagan raised his hands as if in surrender.

Mr Kenny told the Fianna Fáil leader however to laughter, that “young Minister Harris is enjoying the greatest honour of his career in dealing with the Department of Health”.

The Taoiseach said that the current figures belied the work that was going on in housing as he listed the state of various projects.

Mr Kenny said “there are 8,430 homes currently under construction.”

“They’re there now Deputy. They’re currently being built.”

“There are 91 further projects with 1, 821 homes being worked on and a further 620 homes almost completed.”

He said €5.3 billion was being invested up to 2021.

“These are challenges, and challenges that will be met,” the Taoiseach said.

But Mr Martin said “these are daily crises for families”.

He said people are being given a deadline of the middle and end of March to leave their homes and they have nowhere to go.

“And talking about 2021 is cold comfort for people who need houses now,” he said.

But insisting the houses were being built, he said “even the Fianna Fail party that decimated the economy and the building sector”, would know it took time to plan and build houses.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times