Eoghan Murphy accused of prioritising career ahead of housing crisis

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is under fire for prioritising his own political career ahead of solving the housing crisis.

Mr Murphy has faced multiple attacks and has been accused of presenting social housing building figures in a convoluted manner to make them appear better than the reality.

A report yesterday showed more than 2,500 social houses were completed by the end of 2017, with 3,646 more under construction and 1,912 about to go on site.

However, DIT professor and housing expert Lorcan Sirr said that when the figures are examined, the reality is local authorities built just over 500 houses last year.

This was strongly refuted by Mr Murphy last night who said local authorities built 1,014 houses in 2017, a further 761 were provided though Approved Housing Bodies, and 522 came from Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The remaining homes were completed in 2016.

“We’ve had to ramp up from almost nothing our social housing building — in 2017 we built three times what we built in 2016 and this year we’ll again pretty much double that figure — so there’s a huge amount happening,” he said.

However, Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said Mr Murphy was putting his own political career first and has been “caught out on the figures a number of times now, it is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst”.

Mr Ó Broin added: “In the 1950s, local authorities were building an average of 5,000 homes a year at at time when the country was broke and in the 1970s there was an average of 7,000 built again at a time when the State was broke.”

Fianna Fáil’s spokesman on housing, Darragh O’Brien, said the minister and the Government “don’t get” the extreme crisis in housing and are simply waiting on the market to fix the problem, which he said will not work.

The Government has promised to deliver an additional 40,713 social houses between now the end of 2021 though new builds, acquisitions and leasing.

Members of the opposition also hit out at Mr Murphy for publishing reports late at night, giving politicians, housing organisations, and the media little time to examine announcements.

However, Mr Murphy has said this was “nonsense”

Mr Sirr said figures on the number of social houses that are being built, leased, and acquired are being presented in a “really unintelligible” fashion.

Commenting on the quarterly report produced by Rebuilding Ireland, Mr Sirr said: “You would assume that there were 2,600 houses built in the last quarter but what this report really is is a cumulative progress report from the start of Rebuilding Ireland back in July 2016.”

He said when these figures are subtracted, it means only around 1,900 houses were built.

“Then you have to take away the Part V houses, which are houses built by developers and given to local authorities,” said Mr Sirr.

He claimed when the number constructed by approved housing bodies such as Cluid and Túath were subtracted, the number of local authority built homes was just 500, a figure dismissed as “untrue” by Mr Murphy.


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