Families will be presenting as homeless ‘for quite some time’, Murphy says

Housing crisis has not yet peaked, Minister for Housing says

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy told the joint Oireachtas committee on housing that he could not say when the accommodation crisis would peak. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy told the joint Oireachtas committee on housing that he could not say when the accommodation crisis would peak. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The housing crisis has not yet peaked and the spectre of families presenting as homeless is set to continue, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has said.

During an appearance before the joint Oireachtas committee on housing, Mr Murphy said he could not say when the peak would be, but that there would be families in emergency accommodation “for quite some time to come”.

“It depends on how you define the crisis,” he said. “Very regrettably there are going to be families in emergency accommodation for quite some time to come because we have to build houses for them.

“If you measure it in terms of housing output, we’re not that far off what we need to be producing in terms of supply per quarter. We will get to that point at some stage next year.

“I can tell you we are in the middle of a very serious crisis. The building of new homes is ramping up very dramatically. But I can tell you that the presentation of families is going to continue.”

Mr Murphy was also involved in testy exchanges with Solidarity–People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who took issue with the Minister saying nobody could have predicted the scale of the crisis.

“You are incredibly wrong if you think that back in 2011 people were predicting we would be where we are now,” Mr Murphy said. “We had 3,000 ghost estates. We had a massive deficit to correct. Only now are we managing to correct that.”

Frustration

Mr Boyd Barrett said the statement “frustrates the hell out of me”, and called on Mr Murphy to withdraw the remark.

“It suggests to me that you and this Government have learned nothing,” he said. “We warned everyone in 2011. You didn’t have to be a prophet to work this out. It was obvious that if you didn’t build council houses, this was going to happen. I really think you should withdraw that statement and recognise that a mistake was made.”

Mr Murphy said he stood over the policies of Fine Gael in successive governments. “Congratulations on being able to see the future so well,” he said.

“We can’t pretend that we came to this crisis from a perfect position, because we didn’t. We all knew that the cuts we made to the capital budget would create future risks for the country. I was a backbencher at the time and I stood fully behind it. It was the right decision.”

Mr Murphy also said he was “tired of buck-passing” between local authorities.

“Whenever there are problems there is blame to go around,” he said. “Some of them are doing great work. Some are not.”

On the issue of housing protests, Mr Murphy said it was “important” that people were displaying an engagement with Government policy.

“I think it’s important people protest, take to the streets and get outraged about what happens in here,” he said. “It means they care. People in the past were not paying enough attention either in here or outside, because mistakes were made.”