A war of words has broken out between landlords and John Halligan, with the minister insisting the “bastards” should be jailed and saying that a “sizeable minority” of them are making money out of people’s misfortunes.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, Mr Halligan went further and warned landlords he “would take them on” and promised during the lifetime of this Dáil to bring in legislation to “force them to charge reasonable rents”.
Mr Halligan was strongly criticised yesterday by a landlords group for his recent comments that speculating landlords were “driving people into homelessness” and that he “would jail the bastards”.
The Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA) said his remarks had bordered “on incitement to hatred and could be contrary to legislation on incitement to hatred” and that the junior education minister should seriously consider his Government position “given his crucial role in Irish education”.
IPOA chairman Stephen Faughnan, in a message to landlord members, said the comments were “despicable, filthy, and foul- mouthed” and do not represent the crucial role played by the providers of good quality, affordable accommodation to over 700,000 people”.
Mr Faughnan added: “It is outrageous for a member of the Government to publicly denigrate a body of people who are crucial to solving the housing situation.
“Responsibility for rent increases lies solely with successive Government policy which practically insists that landlords should offer a free service to their customers instead of being considered as business partners in the housing solution.”
Mr Halligan strongly defended his words last night and went further in his challenge to those operating in the rental sector.
“Are they seriously telling the people of Ireland that there are no landlords exploiting people?” he said. “Are they seriously saying they can justify the increase in rents across the country, higher than before the bust? They don’t have the right to charge €200 a week and drive people into poverty.
“I will withdraw nothing. They are exploiting people and if I could, I would do something. It is outrageous; they should be ashamed of themselves. Are they exploiting people? Absolutely. There are some good people [landlords]. But there’s a sizeable minority out to make a quick buck out of people’s misfortunes.”
The Waterford TD said that he will now make it his “business” to take on landlords.
“It is my intention in the lifetime of this Dáil to bring in legislation to force landlords to charge reasonable rents,” said Mr Halligan. “I will take them on.”
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