Eoin Ó Broin: Housing is 'single biggest failure' of coalition Government

Eoin Ó Broin: Housing is 'single biggest failure' of coalition Government

It is now almost €5,000 more a year to rent than when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil put together their confidence and supply arrangement, the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis has been told.

Speaking during a live televised address, the party's housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the “single biggest failure of this Fine Gael / Fianna Fáil coalition government is housing”.

Mr Ó Broin said that despite the creation of the Department of Housing and the appointment of a dedicated minister at senior Cabinet-level since 2016, the situation has worsened significantly.

“Homelessness is up 67%. There are more than 10,000 people officially homeless according to the Department of Housing. Child Homelessness is up 81%. Tonight more than 4,000 children will sleep in hostels, hotels and HUBs,” he said.

Mr Ó Broin said some will spend their fourth Christmas this year in emergency accommodation.

“Rents are up 39%. It is now almost €5,000 more a year to rent than when Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil put together their confidence and supply arrangement. And house prices are up 20%. A whole generation of young people are now locked out of homeownership. This is Eoghan Murphy and Simon Coveney’s record,” he said.

Mr Ó Broin said his numbers are based on data from Daft.ie quarterly index of average rents which showed that in quarter 1 2016, rents were €998 and by the autumn of this year, the average rent was €1,403, a monthly increase of €404 or €4860 a year.

Delegates heard that secure and affordable accommodation is increasingly out of reach of working people.

He said things are not working because of an over-reliance on the private sector.

“Their refusal to invest in public housing to meet social and affordable need lies at the heart of our crisis,” he added.

Mr Ó Broin said it doesn’t have to be this way.

Public housing is the answer. We need a government that will double investment in public housing on public land; that will deliver affordable homes to buy at prices between €180,000 and €250,000; and that will deliver affordable cost rental homes at €700 to €900 per month.

In his address, the party's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty railed against the Insurance industry, accusing them of “wildly exaggerating” the number of fraudulent claims.

He told delegates they “can’t be trusted” and Sinn Féin will “expose their lies.”

Sinn Féin's vice-President Michelle O'Neill, who is facing a challenge to her position by way of a ballot due to be concluded this evening, repeated much of what she told delegates last night in attacking the British moves to provide an amnesty to “state forces.”

She said the time for reunification is coming and demanded the Government prepare the ground for that.

"We are entering a decade of opportunity where the freedom to choose our own future will be decided by the people of this island. "It is a time to transform our country, to unite the people who share this island, seizing what is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she told delegates.

Her speech was criticised by former SDLP member and Labour senator, Mairia Cahill, for its similarities to the one she delivered on Friday night.

“WHY is Michelle O'Neill giving exactly the same speech she gave last night to her Ard Fheis? Name of God,” Ms Cahill tweeted.

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