January 21, 2020
Fianna Fáil housing policy launch fiasco shows they are not serious about housing – Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said that today’s Fianna Fáil housing policy launch fiasco shows they are not serious about addressing the housing crisis.

Deputy Ó Broin said:

“After four years of promises, Fianna Fáil were to finally launch their alternative housing policy today. Instead, they briefed the media with no policy document, no costings and no plan.

“Their spokesperson Darragh O’Brien rehashed a series of existing vague commitments without any detail. This is in stark contrast to Sinn Féin’s 52 point housing plan launched yesterday.

“Of greatest concern was their proposal to introduce a new SSIA loan. While this may sound attractive to first time buyers desperate to buy their own home, it runs the risk of fuelling further house price inflation pushing home ownership further out of reach for thousands. 

“They have also proposed a 5% increase in the Help to Buy Scheme. This has all the hallmarks of the bad old days of Bertienomics. We thought Fianna Fáil had abandoned the boom and bust policies of the Celtic Tiger era.

“Unfortunately on the basis of today’s announcement, that’s clearly not the case.

“Fianna Fáil’s social housing delivery commitments were also deeply disappointing. They are promising to deliver less social housing than Fine Gael, which will result in an ever deepening homelessness crisis. 

“They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and Fianna Fáil’s adoption of Sinn Féin’s affordable housing proposals today is a case in point. But the question has to be asked, why didn’t Mícheál Martin and Darragh O’Brien demand the delivery of these affordable homes as part of confidence and supply agreement?

“It was also disappointing to see Fianna Fáil once again abandon renters and attempt to hide behind a hastily written legal opinion on Sinn Féin’s rent reduction and freeze legislation. It was clear from the weekend that Mícheál Martin was desperately looking for an excuse to walk away from their tepid support for our Bill.

“Sinn Féin does not believe that out Bill is unconstitutional. We were told that delivering 20% of private developments for social and affordable use under Part V of the Planning Acts would be unconstitutional, and yet it wasn’t. We were told Alan Kelly’s two year rent freeze in 2015 would be unconstitutional, and yet it wasn’t. Too often politicians try to hide behind the Constitution when they don’t want to do something. And so is the case with this Bill.

“Renters desperately need a break. We believe our proposal is proportionate, in the common good and adhering to principles of social justice.

“Ultimately a government would be guided by the Attorney General and the Courts. However, if it takes constitutional change to end out of control rents, then that is a course of action that Sinn Féin would energetically pursue. At least now renters know who has their backs and who has let them down.

“Fianna Fáil have spent four years facilitating Fine Gael’s failed housing policies. This is their housing crisis as much as the Governments. Today’s housing policy launch fiasco shows they are not serious about addressing the housing crisis and is evidence – if any more is needed – why they should not be allowed any near the Department of Housing after this election.”

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