Radical change needed to avoid housing ‘catastrophe’, says McDonald

Taoiseach criticises Sinn Féin votes against plans in Dublin during Leaders’ Questions

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said recent reports from the ESRI and KPMG showed that rents in Dublin would increase by 50% while those in Cork were set to rise by 36% even if the Government’s housing targets were met. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said recent reports from the ESRI and KPMG showed that rents in Dublin would increase by 50% while those in Cork were set to rise by 36% even if the Government’s housing targets were met. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald blamed the Government for a looming “serious catastrophe” in housing during clashes with the Taoiseach in the Dáil on Wednesday.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Ms McDonald referenced a recent report from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) which found that nearly 42 per cent of first-time buyers and 25 per cent of purchasers moving home used gifts as part of their deposits.

“We saw figures from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, showing that almost half of first-time buyers have to run to their parents for help to secure a deposit. It’s called the bank of Mammy and Daddy,” Ms McDonald said. “Not every Mammy and Daddy is in a position to bankroll son and daughter, those that can are the fortunate ones.”

The Sinn Féin leader said the country was looking at a “serious catastrophe” without a “radical change” in the Government’s housing policy.

Ms McDonald said “a generation is today locked out of affordable housing” while home ownership is “a pipe dream for many”. The Dublin Central TD said recent reports from the ESRI and KPMG showed that rents in Dublin would increase by 50 per cent while those in Cork were set to rise by 36 per cent even if the Government’s housing targets were met.

“We thought that your housing crisis couldn’t get any worse, but the message from these reports is that we have seen nothing yet,” Ms McDonald told the Taoiseach.

“Without a radical change in government housing policy, we are looking as a serious catastrophe, a disaster for workers and families, for society and for Ireland’s long-term economic attractiveness and stability.”

She added that in a Government with “an ounce of common sense”, “alarm bells would be ringing very loudly but instead we get a deafening silence, heads stuck in the sand, no urgency to respond, no forward thinking and quite frankly no common sense”.

“You need to change the direction of your policy away from the interests of developers and invest your funds and focuses squarely on meeting the housing needs of workers and families,” she said. The Sinn Féin leader said 8,000 affordable homes would be needed every year to avoid “the nightmare projected in these reports”. “That’s the level of ambition required,” she added.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government’s housing policies were “having an impact”. He said the Government’s Housing for All Plan was “far more detailed, far more substantive” than anything Ms McDonald and Sinn Féin had to offer.

He said Ms McDonald and her party had to explain why they voted against social, affordable and cost-rental homes at the Oscar Traynor site, “the latest in a series of deliberate decisions by Sinn Féin to oppose substantial housing proposals in Dublin”.

Mr Martin said Sinn Féin had voted against plans for 5,000 homes in Dublin since the local elections in 2019.