Housing Minister hits out at TD's claim Ireland has 'exceeded' capacity for refugees

Housing Minister hits out at TD's claim Ireland has 'exceeded' capacity for refugees

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has hit out at a party colleague for claiming a cap should be imposed on the number of Ukrainian refugees.

Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe suggested that we have now "exceeded" our capacity.

"There is no shame whatsoever in us as a county, and us as a country, in saying 'we have done everything we can'," he told Clare FM.

Mr O'Brien said the Clare TD was "wrong" and the Government would not be capping the numbers arriving here.

"I don't agree with Cathal and I think, in this instance, he's wrong. We have obligations under international law, but I think we have a moral obligation too."

He said the response to the humanitarian crisis has not been without difficulties or challenges, but added that no one would have expected in January that Ireland would have accommodated more than 60,000 people so far this year.

He added: "We have a moral obligation as a country to do everything we can and I fully understand that there are communities right across the country, we wouldn't be able to do this without their support, and some communities are under pressure. And we're looking at how we can alleviate that for them through additional community funds and facilities."

Rental crisis

Turning to the rental crisis, Mr O'Brien said Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is now looking at the tax system that applies to accidental and smaller landlords.

He said it is a "concern" of his to see a "continued flight" of landlords from the market.

"We've seen the individual mom and pop landlords leave over the last number of years for a variety of reasons. One of them being that people are either retiring with their pension pots or they've seen house prices go up and they have been in negative equity.

"That's why we need to increase supply and one of the things that we've done successfully already is to roll out what's called cost rental, which is state backed, affordable rental," he told Newstalk's The Pat Kenny Show.

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