Simon Coveney housing plan ‘not dumped’

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has denied he is “dumping” Simon Coveney’s Rebuilding Ireland housing plan despite admitting the policy is undergoing significant “tweaking” that may see timelines and key measures scrapped.

A minister’s spokesperson rejected the claim and insisted the coalition is tackling the escalating issue after being targeted by a two-pronged Fianna Fáil attack on the Government’s failure to address the housing crisis.

However, in a number of public comments since being appointed minister, Mr Murphy stressed that the Rebuilding Ireland plan is now undergoing review.

In particular, he said, the timeline of resolving the housing crisis by the end of the decade may not be feasible; bedsits may have to be legalised to address shortages, and the help-to-buy scheme could be scrapped.

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin criticised a reported departure from the plan, saying “there seems to be a move away from the Rebuilding Ireland housing plan, himself [Taoiseach Leo Varadkar] and Eoghan Murphy haven’t lost much time in dumping on Simon Coveney’s housing plans”.

However, a spokesperson for Mr Murphy last night strongly rejected the claim, despite admitting significant changes are being made to the original proposals.

“Rebuilding Ireland is working and nobody is dumping on it. A year is an appropriate time to review any plan and that is the work Minister Murphy is in the middle of,” said the source.

“He will look at what has worked, what hasn’t and what needs tweaking. Rebuilding Ireland has ambitious targets which have helped achieve results.”

Meanwhile, a separate Fine Gael-Fianna Fail housing row is developing after Mr Martin insisted Fine Gael must start building tens of thousands of local authority homes, saying pointedly he has “no ideological hang-up” over the policy. Barry Cowen warned the Government’s “reneging on commitments to reintroduce the Affordable Housing Scheme will not be overlooked” and insisted immediate action on the issue is needed.

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