Fine Gael TD 'disappointed' at government's housing failures

A new Fine Gael TD has expressed her “disappointment” at the failure to deliver a proper affordable housing strategy, despite her party being in government since 2011.
Fine Gael TD 'disappointed' at government's housing failures
Fine Gael TD, Emer Higgins: "I can’t explain what caused it but there was definitely a swing against us.” Photo: Maya Nolan

Emer Higgins, TD: "I can’t explain what caused it but there was definitely a swing against us.” Photo: Maya Nolan

A new Fine Gael TD has expressed her “disappointment” at the failure to deliver a proper affordable housing strategy, despite her party being in government since 2011.

Emer Higgins, who was elected to represent the Dublin Mid-West constituency, said the lack of a such a policy was a major reason as to why Fine Gael did so poorly at the general election in February.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Ms Higgins said she noticed a major swing against her party toward Sinn Féin between the by-election she contested in November and February 8.

“I can’t explain what caused it but there was definitely a swing against us.”

However, she also is equally frank about her own party’s failures, which she says contributed to the shift in support to Sinn Féin, which won two seats in Dublin Mid-West.

“I try and relate our performance to what is going on in my constituency,” said Ms Higgins. “A main issue here was the provision of housing, the lack of it. I am disappointed we still don’t have an affordable housing policy.”

Fine Gael lost 15 seats in February’s general election, and a much greater role for the State in the provision of housing is one of the main stumbling blocks in the current government formation talks.

- Read Irish Examiner political editor, Daniel McConnell's full interview with Emer Higgins here.

Meanwhile, 68% of prospective homebuyers still plan to purchase property this year, despite Covid-19 ‘freezing’ the market, according to a survey by property website, MyHome.ie.

Some 37% expect prices to fall by more than 10% in the next 12 months, while six out of 10 respondents believe next year will be a good time to buy property.

“Even though Covid-19 has essentially frozen the market, this survey shows that prospective buyers are still confident about their ability to purchase in the coming year, possibly driven by an expectation of falling prices,” said Angela Keegan, managing director of MyHome.ie.

Although falling prices have not yet been evident in the sector, Ms Keegan said that it was still too early to say if price drops would materialise when the market “comes out of hibernation”.

The survey of 1,981 people carried out between May 5 and May 14, also found that 69% of respondents believe that the Government could do more to help the property sector during Covid-19.

When asked what factors would encourage them to buy a property now, 35% said more available housing stock, 33% said more overall confidence in the economy, and 33% also said an easing of mortgage lending rules.

The virus is expected to have significant long-term effects, with 59% of respondents believing it will lead to more online processes to minimise unnecessary contact. And 21% believe it will lead to quicker sales processes.

Half of respondents (51%) believe that online viewings and virtual tours are effective ways to view a property.

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