Westminster-style Brexit voting echoed in Dáil during votes on housing crisis

House rejects amendments and Labour motion for ‘fundamental shift’ in housing policy

The Labour party’s  housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said Fine Gael’s free market approach to the provision of homes had failed and it was time for the State to step in directly and build 80,000 homes.File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Labour party’s housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said Fine Gael’s free market approach to the provision of homes had failed and it was time for the State to step in directly and build 80,000 homes.File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Westminster-style Brexit voting was mirrored in the Dáil when it debated the housing crisis because all amendments to a Labour party motion dealing with the problem were defeated, along with the proposal itself.

The House voted down four amendments from the Government, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit, and the Green Party to Labour’s motion, and then rejected the motion itself which called for a “fundamental shift in the approach of the Government’s housing policy”.

The party’s housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan said Fine Gael’s free market approach to the provision of homes had failed and it was time for the State to step in directly and build 80,000 homes.

She said Labour had identified how € 16 billion could be made available without raising taxes, by financing it from the Rainy Day Fund and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, allowing credit unions to invest in a public housing fund and merging a number of housing-linked agencies to create a housing development bank.

Labour’s motion was defeated by 60 votes to 56, the narrowest margin of all five votes on the issue. Fine Gael, the Independents who support Government and Sinn Féin voted against the motion.

All other parties supported the motion including Fianna Fáil, Solidarity People Before Profit, Social Democrats, the Green Party and a number of Independents.

A Government amendment to the motion highlighted the “extensive range of measures” the Government had introduced including the creation of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan and €6 billion in funds, the introduction of the Land Development Agency and rent pressure zones.

The Government’s amendment was defeated by 74 to 45 votes.

A Sinn Féin amendment included increasing the capital spend on housing to €2.3 billion to increase social and affordable housing, to hold a referendum to enshrine housing in the Constitution and to double the Part V requirement that 10 per cent of particular developments go to social and affordable housing.

The Sinn Féin amendment was also voted down by 92 to 26.

A People Before Profit amendment called for housing agencies to be merged to create a construction company rather than the bank Labour favoured. It also called for the abolition of income eligibility thresholds for social housing and to increase the Part A allocation to 30 per cent and ensure that those homes in a development were of equal quality as the privately-purchased homes.

The amendment was defeated by 98 to 18 votes with one abstention by Independent TD Mattie McGrath.

A Green party amendment suffered the greatest defeat of 111 votes to three for its amendment to allocate annual payment of €5 billion to the Irish housing development bank rather than the ‘rainy day fund’.