Housing Minister accuses Sinn Féin of 'potentially reckless behaviour' after no confidence threat

The housing minister has dismissed a threat by Sinn Fein of a no-confidence motion against him as “reckless behaviour”.

Eoghan Murphy insisted the focus should be on getting houses built, not on him.

“It’s an unnecessary distraction and potentially reckless behaviour,” he said as he arrived to speak at the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH)’s annual general meeting on Monday.

“Our focus as a government is on fixing the housing sector, getting thousands of homes built and that’s exactly what is happening.”

Eoghan Murphy with Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Eoghan Murphy with Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

It emerged in May that almost 10,000 people across Ireland were homeless.

That included 3,755 children, according to figures from the Department of Housing.

Sinn Fein had threatened to bring a motion of no confidence in Mr Murphy, which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned could lead to a general election.

However the motion was not filed before the deadline ahead of the summer recess in the Dail.

Mr Murphy arrived at the ICSH AGM in Dublin on Monday after visiting 33 new social housing homes in Portlaoise.

“We are building new houses, we are getting people into them, we are making progress,” he said.

“It’s not all going to be done overnight, people need to understand that, but we have in Rebuilding Ireland a six billion euro war chest to deliver 55,000 new homes into the social housing stock.”

Mr Murphy said the private sector will deliver 25,000 new homes by 2020, and the government will work to ensure they are sold at affordable prices.

Mr Murphy also told delegates at the ICSH meeting that they are a “key arm of rebuilding Ireland”.

The ICSH has warned there must be more supported housing options for elderly people.

Chief executive Donal McManus said the state is “sleepwalking into a crisis” in overreliance on nursing homes.

“Older people want to remain in their community in an environment with care support that maximises their dignity, autonomy, privacy and independence,” he said.

Census 2016 identified an almost 20% increase in our older population, so our current overreliance on expensive nursing home care is going to put an enormous strain on the state healthcare budget.

“Currently when people are no longer able to remain at home, their only other option is a nursing home.

“This gap in policy can be overcome by building dedicated supported housing complexes in the heart of local communities.

“Housing associations have been providing accommodation and care support to older people for decades in rural and urban and settings throughout Ireland and have built up a valuable infrastructure of services for older people.

“In addition, the value-for-money dimension cannot be overstated: supported housing costs are less than a quarter of nursing home care.

“Budget 2019 presents an opportunity for the state to get its ducks in a row and make this value-for-money investment at local authority level using a multi-agency approach.”

The ICSH is the Irish social housing federation of non-profit, voluntary and other national housing associations.

It represents almost 240 members and the housing association sector manages more than 32,000 homes for families on a low income, older people, people with disabilities and households that are homeless.

- Press Association

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