Micheál Martin accuses Eoghan Murphy of trying to distract from his own 'ineptitude and failings'

Micheál Martin accuses Eoghan Murphy of trying to distract from his own 'ineptitude and failings'

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been accused of blaming local authorities for the housing and homelessness crisis to divert attention away from his own "ineptitude and failings".

Raising reports that councils will have their powers stripped if they fail to build considerably more social houses, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government is now attempting to shift blame as it is "feeling the heat on the doorsteps" over the housing issue.

"The truth is the Government has placed councils in incredibly bureaucratic straitjackets that have prevented them from getting very modest projects off the ground," Mr Martin told the Dáil.

Taking aim at Mr Murphy, he said: "To blame the councils is his response to camouflage his own ineptitude and failings. The truth is that elected councillors have very little say in housing and the planning process."

Accusing the Government of spin, Mr Martin referred to a visit by the Taoiseach and a number of Cabinet ministers to Cork over the weekend where they were photographed in hard hats and vest "digging up an old site".

Micheál Martin accuses Eoghan Murphy of trying to distract from his own 'ineptitude and failings'

However, the Taoiseach hit back at the opposition leader who he said was clearly "irritated" by the visit.

"I met lots of people, I was in Blackpool shopping centre and in Blarney too, where I got a very good reception. The Deputy is clearly irritated about that and returns to his usual display of outrage and faux anger."

Mr Varadkar added: "If he wants a classic example of local authorities not fulfilling their responsibilities, Fianna Fáil councillors in Galway city only the other day voted against 20 social houses in Ballybaan. That is a classic example of local authorities turning down money from central Government and voting against social housing."

Mr Varadkar said he was not aware of any plans to strip local authorities of their powers relating to housing or planning and said no such proposals have been brought to the Cabinet table.

He said local councils have responsibilities when it comes to housing and planning but central government also has a role to play.

Mr Varadkar pointed to CSO data released last week, which showed that over 20,000 new homes had been built in Ireland in the past year. He said this represents a 22% increase on the previous 12 months.

He told the Dáil that between 10,000 and 11,000 homes are being added to the social housing stock this year.

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