Taoiseach, Sinn Féin leader trade insults in ongoing row over housing crisis

Martin accuses McDonald of ‘electioneering’; she says Government policies ‘threadbare’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald traded insults in the Dáil in the ongoing controversy over the housing crisis. File Photographs: Alan Betson / Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald traded insults in the Dáil in the ongoing controversy over the housing crisis. File Photographs: Alan Betson / Nick Bradshaw

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald traded insults in the Dáil in the ongoing controversy over the housing crisis.

Mr Martin accused Ms McDonald’s party of “electioneering” and politically exploiting the situation while at the same time opposing housing developments across Dublin and elsewhere.

But the Sinn Féin leader in turn claimed that attacking Sinn Féin on housing “shows how threadbare your housing policy is”.

Ms McDonald raised the issue during leaders’ questions when she said that house prices were “on fire” and close to the peak prices of the Celtic Tiger era. She said spiralling house prices were likely to continue over the next four years.

She also asked if the Taoiseach agreed with comments by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar that house prices were still cheaper than during the Celtic Tiger and people had increased borrowing capacity.

She said that three generations of one family were sharing a house in Ringsend in Dublin and one of that family was a 35-year-old woman, with a good job, who had to return to her mother’s home for the fifth time.

‘Whole generation’

Ms McDonald added that “a whole generation has been excluded from the housing market and their lives are now on hold”.

But Mr Martin accused her “electioneering” by referring to the Ringsend house in the Dublin Bay South constituency where a byelection is ongoing.

He said she was trying to gain political advantage with “soundbite after soundbite and slogan after slogan”.

Mr Martin accused Ms McDonald of opposing all the affordability measures introduced so far and said her party has opposed many housing projects that are shovel ready.

Sinn Féin opposed the development of 1,200 houses in Dublin city as well as developments in Tallaght, Clondalkin and other areas, he said.

“Thousands of houses have been rejected and opposed by your party. That is completely inconsistent with the stance you take here in the House.” He added that “you can’t have it both ways”.

He said they opposed the help to buy scheme which assisted 22,000 people to buy homes. The Minister for Housing introduced a new affordable purchase scheme, “with the State directly building affordable homes in addition to the help to buy and shared equity schemes. You opposed that as well,”

Sinn Féin also opposed the extension and expansion of Part V of the Planning and Development Act to designate a range of homes for first-time buyers, he said

He said the Land Development Agency could potentially provide up to 4,000 homes by 2025, but Sinn Féin also opposed that.

But Ms McDonald said those criticisms of her party spoke for themselves. “Attacking Sinn Féin for the housing crisis shows how threadbare your housing policy is.”