'Modern den of thieves': Mick Barry calls Fine Gael a party of landlords

Solidarity TD Mick Barry

Fine Gael is refusing to ban evictions into homelessness because it is a party of landlords, the Dáil has heard.

“Four members of Cabinet are landlords, as are five Ministers of State. Nearly one-third of members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party are landlords,” Solidarity TD Mick Barry said during Leaders' Questions.

“Fine Gael is not going to act against its own class interests,” he said as he called for a cleansing of our “modern den of thieves".

While speaking at Leaders’ Questions, Mr Barry highlighted a case in Cork city where the residents of six flats were given notice to quit for July. All of the residents’ rent had been paid and their leases were intact. The notices arrived with the announcement that refurbishment was needed.

“If Fine Gael is not prepared to protect people being evicted from their homes, is it not right and proper for the people to evict Fine Gael, and the Fianna Fáil Party that supports it, from the council chambers of this country this Friday?” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responded that although he is very sorry to hear about the case in Cork, there are also many good stories from the past year in regards to homelessness: “Some 5,000 families were lifted out of homelessness and provided with secure tenancies in the last year. Some 18,000 families are now living in houses that did not exist a year ago. There are many good stories of people who are being lifted out of homelessness and people who are getting homes for the first time. As I mentioned earlier, 9,000 families were provided with new social housing last year.”

Labour Leader Brendan Howlin criticised plans, presented by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, for co-living accommodation, calling them 21st-century tenements. He described the plans as “ludicrous” and as attempts to “normalise cramped living conditions and erode public housing standards that we have spent most of our lives trying to improve".

The Taoiseach said this type of development accounts for less than 1% of new homes currently being built and emphasised that the Government's goal with these new plans is to provide more choice in the market.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, expressed concerns over the Government's forecast spending. He highlighted the extra spending required on the national children’s hospital, the national broadband plan, as well as the Government's proposed €2.3 billion income tax cut:

“In effect, the Government has made unfunded commitments of more than €4 billion over the next number of years. It seems to me that the Government is committing money it simply does not have, and these commitments are essentially unfunded."

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