Ministers ‘telling lies’ on public housing record, says Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil has accused coalition ministers of “telling lies” over their record on public housing and called for a senior minister to be appointed under the next government to address the crisis.
Ministers ‘telling lies’ on public housing record, says Fianna Fáil

The party also questioned the Central Bank governor’s hesitancy to tackle banks continuing to charge high variable mortgage rates and said he was “not the oracle”.

Launching the party’s proposals to help increase home ownership as well as tackle homelessness, environment spokesman Barry Cowen accused the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition of “massaging figures” over housing.

It was factually incorrect that the Government had given out the keys for 13,000 housing units last year when they had only built 300 new units, he told a press conference in Dublin.

Mr Cowen said Environment Minister Alan Kelly and other ministers making the claim were “telling lies”.

Seanad party leader Darragh O’Brien also questioned a refusal by the Central Bank governor Philip Lane to interfere with mortgage rates being charged by banks. The Dublin North candidate said Mr Lane was “not the oracle” and there was a way to coerce banks to co-operate in reducing their variable rate mortgages for borrowers.

Mr Cowen disputed the 13,000 new housing units the Coalition claimed they provided last year. He said figures obtained through parliamentary questions proved the Coalition had moved 8,000 people onto different leasing schemes and had re-opened 2,700 void housing units. Furthermore, only 300 new units had been built, 272 of which were provided by housing agencies, he said.

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Asked by the Irish Examiner how Fianna Fáil could make claims about housing given its role in the property bubble, Mr Cowen admitted mistakes were made under the previous government, but claimed support was coming back to his party.

Defending his tenure, Mr Kelly fired back that the 13,000 figure was verified by an independent housing agency and the information was based on what local authorities had provided. Mr Kelly asked was the opposition TD now claiming these authorities were “engaged in a conspiracy to tell lies”.

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