Total of 780 local authority houses built last year

Government strategy fails to deliver on social housing promise so far

A total of 780 local authority houses were built across the State last year, according to figures published by the Department of Housing.

The figure, an increase on the 247 built in 2016, brings to 1,027 the number of local authority houses built since the Government's Rebuilding Ireland strategy was announced, less than one-fifth of what was promised in the action plan.

Simon Coveney, who was minister for housing at the time of the plan's publication, said in January last year there would be 13,189 "local authority new builds" during the course of the plan – from 2016 to 2020 – an average of 2,637 per year.

The 1,027 houses figure – an annual average of 513 units – were considerably lower than the 7,000  homes Minister of State Damien English said had been "built" last year at an event in Cork city earlier this month, and than the 1,014 Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy last week said had been built in 2017.


The figures were described as "abysmally low" by Social Democrats co-leader, Catherine Murphy, TD.

“They show just how far off the mark the Government is when it makes claims about the number of social and affordable homes being built. It beggars belief that the Minister does not appear to even be in command of the facts on the ground.”

Varying figures

Housing policy expert and architect Mel Reynolds said the figures brought to a close "a confusing two weeks for anyone tracking social housing progress".

“Varying figures were issued over the past two weeks. The actual final figure is a fraction of the original figure quoted,” he said in a reference to the figures mentioned by the Ministers.

Dublin City Council built the most social housing last year – 197 units followed by Cork City which built 123. Fingal built 99, Carlow built 43, Monaghan 39 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council 38.

Galway City Council built none, as did South Dublin County Council. Clare, Laois, Leitrim and Wicklow County Councils also built no social housing last year. Cork County and Limerick built four units each.

Local authorities acquired – ie bought – 1,454 units of social housing last year, with Dublin City acquiring the most (217), followed by Wexford (123) and Kildare (108). Fingal acquired 52, South Dublin acquired 40 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown acquired 17.

Every council acquired some units, with Galway City the fewest (seven), Leitrim (eight) and Galway County (10).

Some 1,757 voids were brought back into use, 543 of them in Dublin city, 168 in Donegal and 121 in Fingal. Counties Longford and Leitrim brought no voids back into use while Roscommon brought three.

Ms Murphy said the figures “clearly demonstrate why the housing crisis is getting ever worse – local authority construction is happening at a snail’s pace. We need to see a much faster delivery of new build houses as well as more ambitious local authority targets backed up [by] adequate resources.”

* This article was amended on April 26th.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times