Taoiseach confirms Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to stay in role after reshuffle

Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis: Micheál Martin defends Coalition record in wake of record homeless numbers

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the Government is “not happy” about record numbers of homeless, but he defended the Coalition’s record and confirmed Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien will keep his job in the upcoming reshuffle.

Mr Martin was speaking ahead of the opening of the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in Dublin, hours after it emerged that the number of people who are homeless in the State and relying on emergency accommodation has increased to a record 10,805.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the Fianna Fáil event, he rejected a suggestion that the numbers are a sign that the party’s housing policy is not working.

He insisted house-building is increasing and a much higher number of homes are being completed, with 25,000 expected this year.


In terms of homelessness, he said a housing first policy is being implemented, and added: “We’re not happy about it and we’re going to continue to do everything we possibly can in terms of dealing with the increased numbers.”

Mr Martin also said: “There’s thousands of people exiting homelessness every year. It’s not the same people in homelessness”.

He defended the Government’s Housing for All plan saying it is “the only substantive policy document and I would challenge you to find another one from any political party”.

He pointed to Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, which stalled construction, as hampering efforts to ramp up housing supply.

Asked if he has confidence in Mr O’Brien, he replied: “Of course I have. He’s been working flat out.”

Mr Martin added: “I see nothing of any substance from any political party outside of the Government in this country in relation to housing.

“I’ve seen slogans, I have seen sound bites but I haven’t seen substance.

“And I haven’t seen real breadth of initiatives that Darragh O’Brien has taken, to be fair to him, in respect of affordable housing and social housing.”

Mr Martin said a record number of social homes will be built this year in what he said is the beginning of “a new era of social housing at scale”. Asked if Mr O’Brien will be moved from his job in the Cabinet reshuffle due in December, Mr Martin said: “Not at all”.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times