Politicians need to ‘think twice ’ before objecting to housing -Taoiseach

‘Absolute need’ for housing trumps local objections to housing developments, Martin says

Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s message to renters was ‘Supply is the answer. It is not an easy answer to give’Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said politicians need to “get real” about objecting to developments in the midst of a housing crisis.

Mr Martin stated there are too many objections to housing and there had to be realisation that the "absolute need" for housing needs to be taken into consideration every time a development is proposed.

He suggested politicians should “think twice or even three times before objecting” to new developments and he had made the point at parliamentary meetings and in the Dáil.

He described housing as the “biggest social issue facing us as a country” and added: “Given that the population is now more than five million we have to work at pace in terms of the building of housing across the country.”

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He suggested there is a need for “significant more investment coming into the country to enable us to get us to a far higher level of construction.”

A new report from Daft.ie this week found that new rents across the country have soared by 15 per cent in the last year despite existing tenancies being subject to rent controls in many urban areas.

Daft.ie also noted that the number of places available to rent across the State was just 851 on May 1st and the lowest since records began in 2006.

When asked what his message was to renters, Mr Martin responded: “Supply is the answer. It is not an easy answer to give right now to you, but we really have to get up to a level.

“That means where agreements have been agreed between county councils, approved housing bodies and developers, we need to give them the green light and get them moving again.

“The biggest social issue facing the country is that of housing and there is an obligation on us all collectively to provide as much housing as we possibly can in as short a timeframe as we possibly can.

“Access to good quality housing to me is the bedrock for social and economic stability.”

He also stated that a “balance needs to be struck” between rental regulation and ensuring that landlords stay in the market.

“Six acts have been passed in the last two years protecting renters. We have increased resources to the Rental Tenancies Board (RTB). We need more investment in the private rental market. Supply is the issue. I know it is mantra, but there is no getting away from it.”

The Taoiseach visited a new housing development at Glenfen outside Sallins in Co Kildare.

The 29 new social homes are being delivered by Tuath Housing, an approved housing body which builds homes on behalf of local authorities across the country.

The development consists of nine one bedroom, 12 two bedroom and eight three bedroom A-rated houses which will be made available to tenants on the Kildare County Council housing list.

Tuath Housing expects to deliver 1,700 social and affordable housing this year.

Mr Martin said the development was a “further manifestation of the growing momentum around house building in the country and particularly the good work being undertaken by approved housing bodies like Tuath. The pipeline so far has been good and this development is reflective of that.”

The Government has set a target for 9,000 new social housing builds this year.

Up to the end of March 5,669 new homes were built and 7,000 have commenced construction.

There is likely to be 24,600 dwellings built in the State this year, but it is still short of the 33,000 to 35,000 houses that need to be built on an annual basis.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times