'Offensive' that children are in emergency accommodation, Taoiseach tells Late Late Show

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the current housing crisis as an "enormous issue" on the Late Late Show, especially when children become homeless.

"Particularly when it comes to kids, people find it offensive, and I find it offensive too, that children are in emergency accommodation," he told Ryan Tubridy.

When asked what he would say to a homeless family watching the show from emergency accommodation, he replied: "I would say I'm sorry that they're in the situation they're in and that the Government will do everything it can."

He added the situation "will be temporary" and the Government wants to build sustainable housing.

"Supply [of houses] is the key to the solution," he said.

"We don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past, burdening people with high mortgages, negative equity."

Mr Varadkar also said hospital overcrowding is an issue.

"Hospital overcrowding is a hard one to get a handle on," he said.

"I don't want to see anybody spending time on a trolley."

When asked about his recent comments about HSE staff taking too much leave over Christmas, he defended his remarks, saying he did not want to see hospitals understaffed over Christmas.

"These are people I know and I know how hard they work over Christmas," he said.

"The point I was making is not that people shouldn't be spending time with families and taking leave. The point I was making is it is our busiest time of year and we need all hands on deck.

We need to make sure that we're adequately staffed during that period.

The Taoiseach said that while he respects Mary Lou McDonald, he does not foresee Fine Gael joining forces with Sinn Féin in the Dáil.

"I think she's intelligent, I think she's very articulate," he said. "It's not something personal. It's not about Mary Lou, it's about Sinn Féin. I don't think Sinn Féin is a normal political party.

"We couldn't serve in government with them."

On Brexit, he said the country is preparing for a no-deal situation.

"In a country that's a net exporter of food that won't be a problem, he said, referencing comments made by Tory MP Priti Patel, who suggested the threat of food shortages in Ireland should be used in negotiations to get rid of the Brexit backstop.

"There's no doubt that a no deal scenario would be bad for our economy. We are preparing for it.

"No country could be prepared for a no-deal Brexit," he added.

He said he hopes the next general election will not take place until summer 2020.

"If it was up to me not until summer 2020. Brexit isn't fully resolved, there has to be a transition period."


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