'Whole of government approach' needed to solve housing crisis

Both the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meetings heard calls for TDs to buy-in to housing policies
'Whole of government approach' needed to solve housing crisis

The Tánaiste has told his party not to point the finger of blame for the housing crisis at Fianna Fáil. Picture: Dan Linehan

The government parties are continuing to come under pressure to intervene in the growing housing crisis, with the leaders of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael telling their parliamentary party meetings that a "whole of government approach" is needed to remedy the housing situation.

Pressure has mounted in recent days after a number of instances of international investment funds buying the bulk of homes in new-build housing estates were reported. 

It has been claimed in the Dáil that this is prominent on a national scale, with funds eyeing up new estates in Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Galway, as well as recent instances reported in Kildare and Dublin.

The Tánaiste has told his party not to point the finger of blame for the housing crisis at Fianna Fáil.

Speaking at a private meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday night, Leo Varadkar said that he "wasn't comfortable" with the narrative that the parties were not aligned on the "shared challenge". 

He said colleagues should promote the fact that homelessness is down 40% on its peak in interviews.

Pointing to the declining rates of homeownership, Mr Varadkar said that it amounted to a "breach of the social contract" that younger people did not feel buying a home was in reach.

The Tánaiste also said he did not like the narrative in the media that Fine Gael blames Fianna Fáil and vice-versa for the crisis and the parties must work together on solutions.

Likewise, the Taoiseach said the Government's housing plans have substance and delivery. From his research, Sinn Féin has opposed around 5000 houses in Dublin, he added.

The Taoiseach said: “We don’t have the luxury of opposing everything and sloganeering. If we are serious we need to facilitate and drive on with supply.”

Micheál Martin told his TDs that housing has to be treated as a whole of government issue like the Covid-19 and Brexit crises.

"All hands on deck," he said.

Marc MacSharry called on the Taoiseach to declare "a housing emergency" and said that the party needed a real, radical approach to the housing emergency. 

Declaring a national housing emergency would enable the minister for housing, under the Planning Act, to overrule or the “cumbersome planning process”.

Mr MacSharry told his party colleagues that Fianna Fáil's housing policies are "Fine Gael light" and "window dressing". 

Patrick O’Donovan attacked the Green Party and claimed their TDs are "upset" when Fine Gael TDs stand up for their constituents.

Separately, Mr Varadkar also said that it "may be possible" to offer every adult who wants a vaccine their first dose by the end of next month, but said that it was too soon to be certain. 

He said that on shifts where he has be volunteering as a vaccinator, he would be able to do twice as many vaccinations if the supply was there, which means that as supply grows, the country could feasibly do 350,000 vaccines a week.

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