Confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government: Motion [Private Members]

I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

noting that:

— Fine Gael have been in office for seven years and during that time homelessness has increased to unprecedented levels, house prices and rents have spiralled out of control, and tens of thousands of households are unable to access secure and affordable homes;

— the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness has been in place for two years, and has clearly failed to address the causes of our housing crisis, and its underinvestment in social and affordable housing and over-reliance on the private sector has exacerbated the crisis; and

— Deputy Eoghan Murphy has been Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government for 15 months, and on his watch, homelessness has increased by 25 per cent, child homelessness has increased by 34 per cent, pensioner homelessness has increased by 40 per cent, rents have increased by 7 per cent and house prices by 6 per cent, delivery of social housing remains glacial, not a single affordable home has been delivered by any central Government scheme, private sector output in the main is overpriced and unaffordable, and vacant housing stock remains higher than the norm in other comparable countries;

has no confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and calls for him to be removed from office;

and calls on the Government to:

— accept that the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness has failed; and

— urgently introduce a new housing plan that will meet social and affordable housing need through an ambitious programme of public housing provision, and tackle homelessness through a greater focus on prevention and reduction of the length of time adults and children spend in emergency accommodation.

I will share time with Deputy McDonald.

When Deputy Eoghan Murphy was appointed Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government 15 months ago I said I wanted him to succeed. I told the House that if he implemented the right policies I would commend him, but I also said I would hold him to account if he pursued the wrong options. Fifteen months later, it is clear that both Deputy Eoghan Murphy, as Minister, and his housing policy, Rebuilding Ireland, have failed. Since the plan was published over two years ago homelessness has increased by 60%, child homelessness has increased by 77% and pensioner homelessness has increased by an unimaginable 80%. Can any of us imagine if it was our mother or father living in emergency accommodation, not knowing where he or she was going to sleep tonight, moving from hostel to hostel, scared, anxious and confused? This is the reality of Rebuilding Ireland. Behind every statistic is somebody’s brother, sister, mother or father. Every one of the more than 10,000 homeless people, including the 4,000 children who will sleep tonight in emergency accommodation, is being failed by Deputy Eoghan Murphy and his housing plan.

The reasons for this are very clear. The Government continues to underinvest in social and affordable housing. It continues to rely on the private sector to meet social and affordable housing need. That approach failed when last tried by Fianna Fáil in government, and it is failing now. This year, fewer social homes owned by local authorities and approved housing bodies will be delivered by the Government than last year. Just 5,869 real social homes will be added to the social housing stock if the Government meets its targets. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 families will be pushed into subsidised private rental accommodation. Some 78% of so-called social housing need tenancies will be provided through expensive and insecure private sector tenancies. This is bad for tenants and our housing system and it is definitely bad for the taxpayer.

What about people who are not eligible for social housing? Rents are up 22% since 2016 and house prices are up 18% in the same period. Tens of thousands of working families are simply unable to rent or buy, yet not a single affordable home has been delivered by the Government this year or last year and probably will not be delivered next year either. The Government's much hyped Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme has delivered just 134 mortgages since February. Developments on public land such as on the Grange site in my constituency could have genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy, but the Minister refuses to intervene. Instead the houses will be for sale for between €320,000 and €500,000. How is any working family to afford a home at those prices?

Meanwhile tens of thousands of vacant homes lie empty in our cities and towns. We were promised 1,600 vacant homes for the homeless to be delivered by the Housing Agency. Despite 3,967 such homes being offered to the Government over two years, a paltry 529 have been bought. The buy and renew scheme promised 500 homes to be brought back into stock, but has delivered just 70. The repair and lease scheme promised 800 homes but has delivered just 15 so far. The Taoiseach’s proposal on the appointment of the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, of a vacant property tax has been quietly dropped.

The Minister and his colleagues will say in their defence that the numbers of planning permissions and house completions are up. That is correct. However, overpriced student accommodation at €1,000 per month and unaffordable family homes from €320,000 upwards will not solve the crisis. The Minister knows Rebuilding Ireland is fundamentally flawed. It is failing and is making the problem worse. A good and courageous Minister would go to the Cabinet and say the plan is not working and that it must change. The fact that the Minister cannot even see the failure in front of him demonstrates why he must go. His blind defence of Rebuilding Ireland is proof of how out of touch and out of his depth he is. It confirms beyond doubt that he is now an obstacle to addressing the real causes of the crisis.

The Minister claims that this motion is a personal attack on him. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is the Minister and the buck stops with him. His plan is failing and it is time he and his colleagues took responsibility for that. He said that the housing crisis cannot be solved overnight. He is correct. However, Fine Gael has been in government for seven long years, and this is its housing and homelessness crisis as much as it is Fianna Fáil’s.

The Minister also claims that the Opposition has no policy alternatives and that we are devoid of solutions. Again, this is simply not true. We have produced fully costed budgets and a raft of policy proposals and Bills that the Minister has chosen to ignore. We have proposed a doubling of capital investment in social and affordable housing. We have urged the Government to take advantage of finance from the credit unions, the Housing Finance Agency and the European Investment Bank. We have published detailed proposals on how to accelerate the delivery of much-needed public housing. We have tabled legislation to provide real security of tenure, halt rent hikes and improve standards in the private rental sector. We have proposed an emergency three-year rent freeze and a tax relief of a full month's rent to help make renting affordable. We tabled the Focus Ireland amendment which would have prevented hundreds of families losing their homes. We introduced legislation to ensure all families at risk of homelessness would have homelessness prevention plans in place at least 60 days before losing their homes. We also proposed detailed regulations for the short-term letting sector and offered comprehensive proposals for improving building standards and addressing the legacy of latent defects.

Unfortunately, time after time Fianna Fáil has lined up with Fine Gael to block these proposals. Deputy Micheál Martin's party refused to support our Bill that would have enshrined the right to housing in the Constitution. He blocked his Deputies from supporting the Focus Ireland amendment which would have prevented hundreds of families from becoming homeless. What Fianna Fáil has proposed instead is more tax breaks for developers. It clearly has not learned from its mistakes in the past. It will be the same tonight.

Deputy Micheál Martin is so weak that he is not willing to stand up to the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar. He is so scared of an election that he is willing to allow a failing Minister and his failed housing plan to remain in place. It is time that party stopped speaking out of both sides of its mouth on housing. It cannot criticise the Government's housing plan and its failing Minister on one day and then support the Government's housing budgets and the same failing Minister the next. It is time for Deputy Micheál Martin, who is absent, to put up or shut up.

Passing this motion tonight would send a clear signal to the Government that its housing policy must change. It would ensure that budget 2019 would be a housing budget. It could be a turning point in our housing and homelessness crisis. However, if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will not listen to the Opposition they will have to listen to the people. Across the country frustration with the housing crisis is turning into anger. Take Back the City is giving a voice to a locked-out generation. The Raise the Roof rally at 12.30 p.m. on 3 October outside the Dáil will be even bigger. This will be the largest civil society coalition demanding change since Together for Yes and the marriage equality movement. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and all its members, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland and a raft of homeless non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and grassroots housing campaign groups will be speaking with one voice to demand a radical change in policy and real ambitious investment in social and affordable housing.

Rebuilding Ireland has failed. The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, has failed and it is time for both to go. I commend this motion to the House.

Ba mhaith liom an rún atá os ár gcomhair anocht a mholadh agus ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis an Teachta Ó Broin as ucht é a chur faoi bhráid na Dála.

We are in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis in this State. We face a housing emergency. It is a crisis that has worsened every passing day this Government has been in office and a crisis that continues to spiral out of control. We all know the statistics. God knows, they are daily intoned and recorded on our broadcasting media and in the pages of our newspapers. We know also, however, that whatever the statistics there is no way to quantify the social and human cost of a crisis that now permeates every facet of Irish life. Homelessness and the housing crisis is not now a niche concern or a concern simply for one sector of Irish society or for any one class. It affects the entirety of our society. Families who in years gone by would never have been considered vulnerable now live in fear that a hike in their rent might push them into homelessness. People, including couples in their 20s and 30s, unlike their parents before them have no real prospect of ever being able to afford their own home. Tens of thousands of low and middle-income families once able to secure a decent council house or an affordable home now languish on waiting lists that will never be cleared. Thousands of children go to bed in emergency accommodation tonight, deprived of a basic right that should not be considered a luxury in childhood, namely, somewhere for them to call home.

What about those living in overcrowded substandard accommodation? In the midst of this crisis and emergency, they are very often forgotten, left to one side. Behind every outworking of this crisis there are real lives and real people, very many of whom took to the streets last weekend and many more of whom will increasingly come out to vent their utter frustration and anger.

The crisis we face has one root cause: a lack of homes. Despite this fact, we have a Government that continues to abdicate its responsibility and refuses to build homes in sufficient numbers to house our citizens. Building social and affordable housing is the only long-term policy solution that can properly address the housing crisis yet we have a Government and a Minister that turn their faces away from this reality. We can house those in need of homes who cannot afford a home from their own means. Doing so would reduce homelessness and the number of families and citizens in need of rent supplement and the housing assistance payment, HAP. It would also increase the number of rental properties available and reduce rent inflation and, in turn, rents. Reducing rents increases the ability of people to save to buy their own homes. More people with the means to buy their own homes means more homes being built. It is simple economics, which this Government refuses to grasp because it would rather safeguard the profits of landlords than deliver for ordinary citizens. What has the Government delivered? Some 6,268 real social homes were delivered last year which is a drop in the ocean. No affordable housing was delivered by the Government over the past three years, rents are up 22% in two years and house prices continue to spiral owing to a lack of supply. This is the Government's failure. It is a litany of failure and the record of the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy.

The housing crisis is dire but there are solutions. Solving it may well present one of the biggest challenges to a Government or a Minister but it is not impossible. We can bring the housing crisis under control. The State can build homes. We can house our citizens and we can deliver. This will only happen if there is the political will to do so at every level, starting at the top with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. Nobody expects the Minister to perform miracles. It is important to say that. In the midst of a crisis what people do expect and deserve is vision and leadership. They also expect accountability, which is what tonight's motion is about. It is not about playing the man or the Minister but about holding the Government and the Minister to account.

We need a radical change of direction and a radical change of policy. Dismissing those who highlight the extent of the housing crisis and the Government's failure is not the answer. Normalising homelessness, as the Government has done, is not the answer and doing nothing and sitting on one's hands, as Fianna Fáil is doing, is not the answer. We need bold and urgent action. We propose the following: doubling investment in social and affordable housing to deliver homes; the introduction of a temporary tax relief for renters alongside a three-year emergency rent freeze; the introduction of legislation to prevent buy-to-let landlords from seeking vacant possession; the introduction of legislation requiring local authorities to have a homeless prevention plan for all those at risk of losing their homes or tenancies; and, crucially, enshrining the right to housing in our Constitution and basic law. These are just some of the measures and approaches that are required to tackle this crisis. These are bold, meaningful actions but they require courage, vision and real leadership, all of which have been lacking in the Government and in the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy.

At the weekend, those citizens that came onto the streets each had their own stories. Some of them were students who desperately sought accommodation and told stories of having second thoughts about going to university or college owing to the cost and lack of availability of accommodation. Others were people who have been on social housing waiting lists for years and years, many of them single citizens and some of them families. Margaret Cash was at the Garden of Remembrance with her beautiful children. The Ceann Comhairle will recall that she is the mother who along with her children spent the night in Tallaght Garda station. This image, above all else, crystalised in the public mind just how deep this crisis is and how desperately low Government standards have fallen. Margaret Cash addressed the crowd at the Garden of Remembrance, where she said something very simple but very profound. She said, I am a mother. I am a Traveller citizen. I do not expect anything for nothing but I do demand respect for myself and my family. I should not sleep in Tallaght Garda station. No citizen, no mother and her small children, should sleep in any Garda station. We ought to have a Government that is serious about delivering, not one that sits smugly on the sidelines and dismisses people and the reality of people's experiences.

We bring this motion not as a stunt or as a personalised action but because now is the moment to draw a line in the sand and to say "Enough is enough". Now is the time for all of us, on behalf of the people we represent, to demand a new approach and to demand policies that work. For that to happen the Minister must be held to account and the Taoiseach must lead Government and relieve the Minister of his duties. It is time to call a halt to inaction. I encourage and urge every Teachta Dála to support our motion before the Dáil tonight. The emergency we face demands nothing less than that.

I call the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. I understand the Minister is sharing time with Deputies Donohoe, Harris, Bruton and Heydon.

That is correct. I had the privilege recently of meeting with a young mother with a young child who were homeless. She told me her own personal story through tears because she felt ashamed about the situation she was in and I apologised to her because she had to spend three weeks in a hotel. She should never have been in that hotel. We were talking in the hub that she is now in and she was finding that difficult but I was able to tell her that she would be in a home soon. I was able to tell her that because every family who had gone into that hub since it had been opened less than a year ago had gone into a home and none had come back into homelessness. She was brave, bright and hopeful for the future and I tried to give her some confidence because I know that we have helped thousands of families like hers up and down this country.

In 2017, 2,000 families left hotels, the majority of them going into homes. In the past 12 months, 5,000 households have exited homelessness. Thousands of homes are being built up and down the country by local authorities, housing bodies and private builders. Housing supply is going up but families will unfortunately and tragically continue to present to homeless services because we do not yet have enough homes. We are still catching up but we are catching up and until we have caught up we will put every support and every care that is necessary in place for any family or individual at risk of entering emergency accommodation or who actually does enter emergency accommodation.

I am the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and I am responsible for fixing this crisis piece by piece and it is complex. Not everything has worked out like we hoped it would, such as the repair and lease scheme for example, but other initiatives have worked out better, such as our fast-track planning process. Progress will not always be linear and we will face setbacks. However, real, tangible progress is being made in terms of homes being built, otherwise we would not have been able to find homes for all of those families that I have mentioned. We would not have local authorities building on their own land up and down the country, or big plans for development in front of those same local authorities which are being opposed by some parties in this House. Neither would we have private homes being opened up on sites in their thousands every quarter and thousands of homes being completed as well.

More new homes will be provided this year than in any year in the past decade. More than 20,000 new places to live in will be delivered and still we have more to do. My job as Minister is to get it done but I will not be distracted by populist nonsense that contributes nothing to the challenges that we face and I will not be hounded out of office by personalised advertising campaigns and attacks against me. I know that people are hurting but if we ignore the progress that has been made for political gain or to try and feed some public outrage for our own political benefit then we risk making the mistakes of the past. We risk throwing out the good and replacing it with the failed policies that did not work before, such as building giant social housing estates that only served to divide communities rather than unite and support them. I will not be responsible for that. I will not be responsible for damning another generation by making populist, short-term decisions.

Some people want to believe that this Government caused this crisis. We did not but we will fix it. Some people want people to believe that this crisis, which is more than a decade in the making, could have been solved in the 16 months since I came into office. They want people to believe that if they were in government this crisis would be solved overnight. That is dishonest and wrong and if they worked on this crisis every single day, meeting all of the people who have been so badly hurt by it and if they were the ones responsible for fixing it they would not be so deceitful to the people.

We have a plan. It is working, it can be improved and anyone in this Oireachtas is free to come forward and present alternatives for debate and agreement. This was Sinn Féin's great opportunity to bring forward its housing plan and to show the people in this Republic the positive contribution it has made but in the motion it has written and in the shallow soundbites it has given tonight, it has not done that. The public, this crisis and this Dáil deserve better than that and the Government is opposing this motion.

I entirely reject the motion of no confidence that has been placed in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and instead express my full confidence in him. All that has been on display this evening is the repugnant attitude of Sinn Féin that would have it think that it is the only party that cares about homeless people, people who are worried about how they will make their next rent payment and people who are worried about their future and if they will have a roof over their head. No party in Dáil Éireann has a monopoly on compassion. No party in Dáil Éireann has a right to claim that it is the only party that understands the needs of those who are most vulnerable.

What the Minister has done in his time in office is to steadily address a complex issue that has searing social and personal consequences for citizens. As a result of his actions we are seeing more homes being built and more planning permission being given. We are seeing housing hubs being delivered and we are seeing those who would face the trauma of being homeless being offered solutions that can make a difference to their lives. Under his leadership in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government we are seeing him deliver a plan which can and is making a difference.

Of course the Minister and all of us on the Government benches acknowledge that more needs to be done and of course we hear the cries of those who worry about their future. However, the way we will respond to that is the same way that this Government responded to the economic crisis and the same way we have responded to many difficulties that Sinn Féin claimed were impractical and that no progress could ever be made on. We will make progress on them step by step and week by week and in so doing we will offer real solutions to citizens as opposed to insulting them, using their anxiety and using their worries about their futures for political gain. All that Sinn Féin cares about in this motion is Sinn Féin. All that the Minister and the Government think about in our efforts is to try to provide homes, to deal with the scourge of homelessness and ensure that the citizens who need help and support are given it.

The lack of housing supply is clearly the deepest scar left in our society from a dark and painful economic recession. It is real, difficult and upsetting and fixing it is a priority for the whole of the Government and the whole of this country. However, one thing is for sure, and that is that the Minister did not cause the housing crisis, despite personalised, nasty attacks from some on the Opposition benches who endeavour to imply just that. The truth is that the housing crisis stems from failed policies of greed and mismanagement throughout Celtic tiger Ireland. We must now rebuild our entire housing sector while not repeating the mistakes of the past and the devastation that those mistakes created for so many. I have watched the Minister over the last 16 months and his energy and determination to fix this situation are second to none but there is no silver bullet, magic wand or one measure to fix it. This is a hard slog and a real challenge that we all need to involve ourselves in.

Week in and week out the Minister is bringing forward proposals to rebuild our housing sector, to demand more action from all stakeholders locally and nationally, to increase supply and to reduce rough sleeping. He and the Government are more than willing to work with the Opposition on addressing this major challenge. In fact, there is an onus on all of us to work together on this and I acknowledge that some in opposition want to do that. Others prefer to call names and engage in procedural stunts such as this ridiculous motion, knowing that it will not build one home or house one family. It is a real case of the worst type of politics, that nasty divisive politics that saw the rise of Trump and Brexit, suggesting that there is only one valid ideology and that nobody else gives a damn.

The Minister cares about his responsibilities. He takes them seriously. It is a pity Sinn Féin does not take its responsibilities in the House seriously. As I said, the Minister did not cause this crisis but there is nobody better fixed to solve it. He will work day and night to ease and solve it and we will stand shoulder to shoulder supporting him and opposing Sinn Féin's ridiculous stunt.

I will say brutally honestly that the solution to this problem will take five years. We said that at the outset.

Another five years. The Government has had seven.

We have never had a more innovative Minister than Deputy Eoghan Murphy tackling this issue. I have seen Sinn Féin behave like this before. When I declared we would create 100,000 jobs, Sinn Féin ridiculed us every step of the way and relentlessly opposed every measure we introduced. It pretended to lament unemployment and emigration but offered only hollow solutions. It ignored enterprise and market realities and offered people solutions that could not be sustained.

It is a protest party.

We now have a programme that will deliver for people and Sinn Féin wants to undermine it.

There are 10,000 people in emergency accommodation.

The Minister should have a bit of humility.


The truth is the failure of our housing strategy was caused by the debt-fuelled model that is not sustainable. It has to be rebuilt from scratch as the Minister is doing.


The Minister should have a bit of humility.

That is what he is doing and I am four-square behind him.


It is unbelievable.

Can we restore a little order? My apologies to Deputy Heydon but the time has elapsed for the Government. Deputy Darragh O'Brien is sharing with Deputies Casey and Cassells.

The one thing on which we can all agree is that Ireland is in the middle of a fundamental housing crisis. Homelessness is scarring our towns and cities. Tenants are struggling to make ends meet and keep roofs over their heads. Young couples see the dream of home ownership slip further and further away. The crisis touches every family in the State in one way or another. The question today is not about the scale of the crisis or the impact it is having across the country. Fianna Fáil fully appreciates and understands its scale and depth. We see it in our constituencies every day of the week but the question today is a different one. The question being asked is, at its heart, a simple one. Should Dáil Éireann bring down the Government?

Thanks Mick. No surprise there. Ultimately, my party and believe it would be a deeply irresponsible action to collapse the Government weeks before the budget in the middle of delicate Brexit negotiations.


Deputies should address their remarks to the Chair and Sinn Féin Deputies should try to restrain themselves a little.

They should try. As I was saying, collapsing the Government weeks before the budget------


The Government Deputies might restrain themselves as well.

People watching proceedings will see this type of behaviour so maybe we should try to address the issues and come forward with some alternatives.

Bring down the Government.

In negotiations where the future of our island is at stake, any satisfaction and media headlines drawn from a dramatic vote would soon be replaced by uncertainty and instability. Our long-term future would be jeopardised for the sake of short-term party gain. All the while not a single additional house would be built while political parties played political games. We should instead take a more difficult but responsible path. That means providing stability during fragile Brexit negotiations and using the upcoming budget to put housing front and centre. Our party is focused on the business of practical steps to tackle the crisis. Given the depth of the crisis and the intensity of citizens' feelings on it, this debate is welcome. The Government is accountable to the Dáil and each Deputy has a responsibility to ensure it does its job. In the fragmented political landscape which emerged in the last election we also have an obligation to work for a stable Government for our people. It means holding Ministers to account but also putting forward viable solutions and working to make sure they are implemented. The same old political game-playing will not cut it any more.

I will use the few minutes I have to outline areas where the Government has failed and also what needs to be done to fix it. There is, at the heart of Government housing policy, a core addiction to spin and announcements over hard work and delivery. Since 2011, six separate housing plans have been announced and countless sub-plans re-announced. That is more than the number of houses built in the 16 local authorities where not a single new social housing unit has been built so far this year. Rapid-build units were hailed as a quick-fix solution until we found out they cost much more and take as long, if not longer, to complete than other houses. Repair and lease, as the Minister alluded to, has delivered just 15 units out of a promised 800. Affordable rental units were promised as far back as 2015 but not a brick has been laid yet. Some 7,000 units were identified by the National Asset Management Agency for social housing but fewer than 2,500 were transferred. Capital spending on social housing is still at only 84% of its 2008 level. Only €20 million was allocated to an affordable scheme this year with a target of just 500 units and none has been delivered. It is a story of overhype and underdelivery. It is clearly time for the Government to recognise the gap between PR appearance and bricks-and-mortar reality. People are interested in solutions, not political grandstanding. The key question, therefore, is what can be done. First and foremost, housing must be placed at the heart of the next budget. People are extremely angry and frustrated, as was demonstrated by the recent marches. They should not be condemned for protesting, as they have been by some, including the Taoiseach. We need to realise that people want solutions, which are available to us. We can quantify the problem. Therefore, we can fix it.

In May, Fianna Fáil put forward a comprehensive motion setting out the need for an affordable housing scheme.

How much would that cost?

The Government, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Solidarity banded together-----

There were no numbers and no costings.

Deputy Doherty, please.

He cannot help himself.

It is very hard.

The Government, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Solidarity voted to defeat-----


There was not even a number or a cost for it.

Will Deputy Doherty allow Members to contribute?

He will have his time.

We showed respect for Sinn Féin contributions. A little courtesy may be too much to expect from some Members in that party. The Government, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and Solidarity joined together to defeat a motion that would have provided affordable housing for working people. The facts scream out that intervention in providing affordable homes is needed. House prices have risen by 90% since 2012. Household incomes have only risen by 7% in that same period. The average house price in the capital now stands at nearly €370,000 or 6.5 times the average household income. A comprehensive, fully funded affordable housing scheme must be put in place in this budget to start delivering affordable units next year. We must open up home ownership to a generation struggling to own their own places. The State has a central role to play in that and budget 2019 must show real action on the issue. The State now needs to lead and show an example. The market will not solve this problem. The State needs to intervene.

The social housing budget must be increased to well above 2008 levels. The Rebuilding Ireland direct build targets for 2019 need to be expanded and a housing first approach to tackling homelessness and addressing waiting lists needs to be prioritised. Stabilising rents and ensuring there is a sufficient flow of rental units available are vital to a functioning rental sector. Attracting and retaining landlords in the market must involve a fair taxation system. The budget should allow reasonable expenses to be deductible and incentivise long-term leases that provide certainty to tenants. A rental tax credit to alleviate the costs of meeting the monthly bill would go a long way for struggling tenants. A residential tenancies Bill must strengthen tenants' rights and also expand supports to students. Away from the budget there are a number of legislative and policy steps we should take. Fianna Fáil has published ten Bills specifically addressing the housing crisis, which is more than any other party. The Government must fully engage on these issues. In the areas of social housing, the rental sector and home ownership there are further policy steps that should be adapted to get to grips with the crisis.

We need to end homelessness and give hope to the 10,000 people and 4,000 kids who are homeless. It is a national scandal and it cannot be allowed to continue.

That is why I and Fianna Fáil have called for the establishment of a time-bound, focused task force to tackle child and family homelessness. The Government should get the stakeholders together and deliver solutions. For social housing, additional resources to assist homeless families must be put in place. Local authorities should be equipped to deliver housing. We must consider the landholdings the State owns: more than 3,000 ha of zoned serviced land that could deliver 114,000 houses. The new Land Development Agency is a step in that direction but we need that to be expedited. In the rental sector, regulating such accommodation platforms such as Airbnb and would open up more units while maintaining the character of residential areas. The cost rental model should be expedited and rolled out across Ireland. A national deposit scheme and quality accommodation certificate should be fully implemented. In the private sector, a rolling affordable housing scheme should be used to build tens of thousands of homes for families and young couples to own their first home. We want funding set aside in this year's budget to establish such a scheme and to build on it year on year. A new special savings incentive account, SSIA, type of savings scheme for first-time buyers to help them save a deposit for a house should also be implemented.

These are some of the ideas that can help get homes built, take vulnerable families out of hotel rooms, and give a generation back the dream of home ownership. We have to be honest and say that motions like this do not build homes. Viable policies backed up by financial commitment over years will address the housing crisis. That demands responsible politics. Fianna Fáil is committed to responsible politics. Now is not the time for bringing down the Government and causing a general election. I think all Deputies know that deep down. Let us work to address the issues we have identified in this debate and show a real political commitment to action, not grandstanding. There is common ground on what actions are needed to resolve this crisis. Let us get on with it and show that the Dáil and the people's representatives have the wherewithal, competence and ability to work together on what is the major crisis of our generation for the good of the people and our country.

There are aspects of our worsening housing crisis and the political management of this crisis that need to be called out in this debate. I sincerely ask those whose job it is to report on this debate, and indeed whose responsibility is to bring to public attention the truth about the housing crisis, to reflect on what is said here. The statistics on housing and homelessness are grim and they are stated so many times that, sometimes, I think that people are fatigued about the numbers. Behind every statistic is a homeless person, a family in a hotel room, or a trauma that will cause scars that will take years to heal.

We need to call out the deeply cynical and negative politics around our housing crisis. By that I mean the political drama of this confidence motion which exists for one purpose only, namely, to exploit the real hurt to families caused by the lack of housing for the benefit of political parties who want to gain votes by feeding the politics of anger, despair, and continual crisis.

We only have to look at the ongoing destruction of democratic politics in the United Kingdom and the United States to see how the politics of crisis and fear are frustrating what is the purpose of mature representative politics. The speeches and the drama in this debate are all about who gets the political blame and who garners votes from an angry electorate. The politics of housing that are on display in this debate are an example of what is wrong with politics and only contribute to increasing disillusionment with politicians and the political system. That is not to say that the political system is working - far from it - but this debate will not build a single home, provide a single policy idea, nor offer hope to people who deserve it. This debate is a failed tactic, a cynical ploy and represents everything I despise about politics.

I sit on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government on which members work together painstakingly through all the different aspects of the housing issue, from the chronic lack of social and affordable homes to the dysfunctional rental sector to problems with planning and construction delays caused by bureaucratic systems that are out of control. In the two years I have sat on the committee I have been impressed by colleagues of all parties and none in their commitment to working through these issues. The purpose of mature democratic politics is to provide solutions to our problems. These solutions will involve trial and error, inevitably they will involve compromise on deeply held principles, and often they will involve radical abandonment of sacred cows.

Our housing crisis is solvable. I agree that it will not be fixed overnight, but I disagree strongly that this Government is getting to grips with it. Personalised confidence motions and Trump-style outrage with slick tweets designed to feed the news cycles where the most colourful language is guaranteed coverage are not solving our systemic problems in housing. The adults in the room in this debate need to call out this travesty. It is the upcoming budget that will reveal if this Government is capable of meeting the dramatic policy shift that is needed on housing. Whatever occurs over the next few months, the reality of the lack of housing and homelessness for thousands of families and our fellow citizens will grind on. The people elected everyone to this House to be the adults in the room. The people expect us to hammer out solutions. They demand that politics works for the people, not for the cynical manipulation of voter sentiment. The keyboard warriors who hammer out hate towards so many of us will never build the policies that will solve our political problems. It is time for all of us who care about our society to call out the politics of witch hunts, blame games and eternal crisis.

Our State with all its power and resources can provide housing for all our people. There are many worthy ideas from all sides of this House that merit debate and implementation. Policy solutions are why I am here. Let us get back to the people's work.

I welcome the opportunity to speak with my colleagues on the issue that is dominating the public forums of debate in this country. What strikes me most from those discussions is that what should unite us is a real desire among us all to deal with this issue because no matter what political badge we might wear on election day, the reality of homelessness, the pressure of renting, and the pressure on young, middle-income families who cannot purchase a home due to the problems in the private housing market is something we all face daily in our constituencies. Our senior spokesperson on housing, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, has brought forward proposals on an affordable house purchase scheme, because while discussions surrounding the construction of social homes has dominated much of the debate, I know from the people calling into my office that a proper affordable home scheme could make a real difference in this debate.

On the issue of social homes, or in good old plain English, county council estates, shortly after my election to my local authority, almost 20 years ago, with the Minister of State, Deputy English, we both saw the extensive construction of council homes in our town, Navan, and in many sections of Meath. I mean real construction of estates with several hundred homes being constructed. I disagree with what the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, said about his philosophy and these estates because they were planned properly by the then Minister, Noel Dempsey, ensuring funding was provided to build community centres in the heart of these council estates which today house many services, new swimming pools, schools, roads and infrastructure. It was a comprehensive package whereby there was a philosophy that drove our house building programme. It was not just building homes, which did happen, but building communities. Somewhere along the way that philosophy has been lost at national and local level. We need to see this Government deal with that, not just the national Government but local government too.

Last Thursday at the Committee of Public Accounts we heard some revealing and shocking statistics from the chief executive officer of the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, Brendan McDonagh, who said in a housing report that it had offered 7,000 social homes to local authorities yet only 2,700 were availed of, meaning some 60% were not taken up. That is shocking. When further probed on this Mr. McDonagh revealed that it was the Housing Agency that acted as the conduit, saying the councils were not taking up homes because they did not want what he termed an over-concentration of social homes in one area.

I can only speak for my county, but when we have more than 4,000 people on a waiting list, it is simply not good enough to hear that coming back from local authorities. It is not on that 4,300 homes could just be let pass.

On the supply of private housing, the regional spatial and economic strategy which followed on from the national framework plan is going to have a devastating impact on counties outside Dublin, including Meath, Kildare, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly where population caps will come into force and thwart the housing market, in particular the private housing market, even further. It will also lead to social housing problems.

Listening to the debate on housing this afternoon during Leader's Questions, I could not but help hear the cheap political dig by Deputy Mary Lou MacDonald of Sinn Féin. She accused Fianna Fáil of sniping from the ditches. I smiled because in County Meath the only fellow sniping from the ditches is Sinn Féin's Deputy Peadar Tóibín, who has form. Three weeks ago, in my constituency, we were all invited to the opening of 43 new council homes in Trim and Athboy, where my constituency office is based. We were in Athboy where the Minister of State, Deputy Damien English, was on hand to open 32 homes in a fine scheme on Connaught Street. It was a great day for the families who received the keys to their new home and it was a privilege to join them on the day. Where was Deputy Peadar Tóibín during this moment of positive action? He was not in the estate.


I will tell Members where he and members of the Sinn Féin Party were. I travelled 200 yards around the corner and there he was with a bundle of leaflets on the street in Athboy, handing out Sinn Féin's diatribes and propaganda. He could not walk the 200 yards to meet the 32 families who were given the keys to their new homes that morning. I find it rich that Sinn Féin Members come in here to talk about the housing crisis when one of its own Deputies could not be bothered to walk 200 yards to see 32 homes being opened.


The Deputy's time is up.

The party does spin like it is going out of fashion. It does not have any sense of conviction. The example of Deputy Peadar Tóibín handing out propaganda on the street, while families were being given homes, sums it up and shows that the party is not fit to be represented in this Chamber.

Please, Deputy.


I enjoyed that. The Labour Party will not be supporting the Minister tonight; rather, we will be supporting the motion for ideological reasons. We believe there is need for a change in ideology in how the housing crisis is being dealt with by the Minister. It is nothing personal. In fact, I found some of the personal commentary on the Minister extremely distasteful and unworthy of Members of this House. My party will have nothing to do with it. Many who speak in this House on this issue do so without going through what they would do, their new proposals and challenges. I refer to the contribution made earlier. I would like to address it and bring forward some proposals that we have to make that are very different. I am not saying the Minister's job is easy, but I think that, fundamentally, even with a good work ethic, ideological change is necessary to put in place pathways to deal with the issues that we all know we face as a country when it comes to housing provision.

My party has different proposals to make on a model of delivery of affordable housing over five years. It has been fully costed and would deliver 80,000 units. We would create a national housing development bank, with regional housing executives. It would be given extensive powers, money, land and expertise, as well as resources from the Housing Agency, Home Building Finance Ireland and NAMA. We have outlined our proposals in great detail. It would also create a differentiation between delivery and policy, the part with which I am very familiar. It is something that needs to happen. The figure of €16 billion that we have proposed, or €3.2 billion a year, is what is ultimately necessary to address the scale of the issues with which we are dealing. I urge the Minister to think about it.

Another issue with which I am very familiar and which also needs to be addressed - it needed to be addressed a number of years ago; I am speaking from experience - is rent inflation. Our proposal which was brought forward on the floor of the House not so long ago involved linking rent inflation with the consumer price index, CPI. I do not think the current model of managing rent inflation and rent pressure zones is feasible or will work because the entire country is under pressure. It was brought forward with the best of intentions, but it is not working. The linking of rent inflation with the CPI which should have happened a number of years ago would have had an impact by now. This issue about which we are talking will go on for a number of years. Every year that passes without this being done will make the problem worse. It is very much being opposed for ideological reasons by the Minister's party and the Government.

I will address a number of other issues. We have to change the legislation on evictions. The process by which people are evicted from their houses by a landlord or a receiver needs to change. It could be done with a small number of items of legislation which should be brought forward as a priority. There are solutions whereby tenants who find themselves in this situation could be left in premises, even where they were being sold.

There is a serious ideological issue. It was an issue for the House even before I was born. It concerns the non-implementation of the Kenny report on land and land values. The Government that eventually bites that bullet and deals with the principles outlined in that good report dating from 1973 will do the State a serious service. The boom-bust cycle and the bubble that created the crisis a decade ago, elements of which we can now see again, were the result of the report not being implemented in the first place. I also believe powers to enable restructured local authorities to use compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, to purchase lands are necessary. This could be done wholesale or in a limited way to facilitate local authorities that have infrastructure and the capacity to build more houses but which are not in a position to quickly acquire lands. It could be done in even a limited way. Local authorities could be given limited powers to do a limited amount where it would make sense and where there were economies of scale. I could think of them myself from my time in that role and it would have a significant impact.

In the limited time I have left I want to deal with a couple of other issues. People ask about short-term leases and their impact on the crisis. We have to address the issue of short-term letting. If I was to stress one point for the Minister in the coming weeks, it would be this. We all talk about Airbnb, but it is not about that because people could call it something else the following week. We need to deal with the issue in the way it is being dealt with in Barcelona and differently in Berlin and other jurisdictions. We will have to deal with the issue because it is creating downward pressures and resulting in a lack of capacity in urban areas, in particular, which will only elevate the crisis. The return for owners from short-term letting are not going to change but increase. There are ways we could do it through the planning laws. There is a need for specific planning provisions to deal with short-term lettings. They are, however, not enforced. There are very quick ways by which they could be regulated. I seriously encourage the bringing forward of regulations in this city and others across the country to address this issue to create greater capacity.

There are a number of other issues that I would like to deal with, but I do not have time to talk about them. The cost of building needs to be examined. I say this coming from a different ideological background, but I encourage the Minister to look at it in a sensible manner as a short-term mechanism to ensure more private housing can be delivered across the jurisdiction. There is a crisis for builders in getting loans to build private housing across the country. It needs decisions to be taken very quickly. There has also been a considerable number of announcements of various schemes. I went through many of the schemes that were proposed a number of years ago in places such as Wicklow, Fingal, Kilkenny, Laois, south Dublin, Westmeath and Wexford. They included developments of 50, 39, 36, 28 and 26 units.

This is from an answer to a parliamentary question I asked; I had to ask for the answer for two months. These schemes have all fallen by the wayside in terms of provision by local authorities once funding is given. There are too many schemes which, for different reasons, have not materialised. The failures of those schemes must be explained. There are too many of them. After all that effort and having gone through the planning process, they fall through, whether the schemes are connected to housing agencies or local authorities. We need an explanation.

Whatever this House decides tonight, many people in this country have already passed judgment on the Minister and his policies. He need only look at the level of public support for the Take Back the City initiative to understand the level of public alienation from the Minister, the Government and its policies on this issue. The Taoiseach is no doubt aware, as he contemplates rolling the dice and calling a snap general election, that housing may emerge as the top issue with the potential to undermine his Government severely at the polls.

It is little over a year since the Minister was appointed to his post. Since his appointment, in my city, Cork, and the wider south-west region, the number of homeless people in emergency accommodation has increased by 37%. The number of homeless children has increased by a stunning 55%. I would say that I am amazed, but I am not. The Minister criticised large social housing estates. I would prefer to live in a large social housing estate than in bed and breakfast accommodation, and so would many other people.

On the Minister's watch, house prices have increased by over 6% and rent rates nationally have increased by 12.6%. Some 500,000 young adults live at home with their parents, unable to buy or rent. They are the locked-out generation. Of course, there is good news for some. Only yesterday, Goodbody Stockbrokers forecast that Ireland's largest corporate landlord, Ires REIT, will harvest €39.5 million this year in rental income. Ires REIT doubled its profits for the first six months of this year, compared with the same period last year, and Goodbody's forecast that its rental income would increase by a further 14% next year. I could go on and give similar examples about housing assistance payment, HAP, landlords and developer profits if I had the time. The wealthy few benefit on the Minister's watch at the expense of the many.

I must say a few words about the Fianna Fáil position. Some 500,000 people voted for Fianna Fáil at the last general election. I suspect that more than one or two will not be impressed by seeing those Deputies vote to keep the Minister in office. Of course, replacing the Minister with one of his co-thinkers would make no difference whatsoever. We have no confidence in the Minister, his Government or the housing-for-profit model, also known as the market, which was supported by past Governments which included Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party and the Green Party. We need a different policy. We need public homes to be built on public land. There is enough public land in the control of NAMA and the local authorities which is already zoned residential to build 114,000 homes. We need housing for people, not for profit.

The Minister's failure could hardly be more complete. It is time for him to step aside, and those toxic, neo-liberal housing policies must go as well.

This is not about the Minister or the Taoiseach. It is not personal. It is about the failure of the Government to break from a disastrously failing policy that is wreaking havoc on the lives of tens of thousands of our citizens. It is personal for those people. Our feelings and our political differences are irrelevant compared with the hardship and suffering those people are experiencing.

In the AV Room today two mothers burst into tears during the showing of a film they participated in about their experience, and the experience of their children, in emergency hotel and hub accommodation. Every Monday and Friday in my clinic and in many other clinics, mothers, children, fathers, families and individuals come streaming in, traumatised, suffering, afraid, anxious and fearful because they face eviction, because they have nowhere to live, because they have no prospect of getting a council house after waiting 15 or 20 years. The list of suffering, hardship and anxiety just goes on.

That is not an accident. It is the result of a policy the Minister has pursued. The policy has led us to a situation where we now have 144,000 families on housing lists or transfer lists, when there were 96,000 on that list when Fianna Fáil was last in power - and that was bad - in 2011. The number of families in homeless accommodation has trebled in the seven years that Fine Gael has been in power. We have 70,000 people in serious mortgage arrears who face the prospect of their homes being repossessed. Students and young workers are paying extortionate rents to profiteering vulture funds and landlords. A whole generation of young people have no prospect of ever owning their own homes or even having secure or affordable roofs over their head. If a government cannot deliver the most elementary thing - a secure roof over the heads of its citizens - it does not deserve to be in office.

Do we have alternatives? We have repeated the alternatives ad nauseam for the last seven years. Build council houses and affordable houses on public land. Stop evictions into homelessness. Use NAMA and its vast resources and land assets to provide public and affordable housing. Introduce rent control so that there can be no profiteering renting. Insert the right to housing into the Constitution as a basic human right. The Government has resisted those things because successive Ministers have pandered to the vulture funds and to the corporate landlords.

A headline from last weekend concerning one of the biggest residential developments planned in this State read: "U.S. investment firm poised to sell Cherrywood land". It goes on to say that US investment firm, Hines, which acquired a 412 acre site in Cherrywood in south Dublin four years ago for €240 million is preparing to sell off large residential plots from that portfolio capable of delivering 2,500 homes. It is flipping land, and it is making a fortune. The Government has let it happen. It put public money into providing the infrastructure. The company bought the land from NAMA for a song. It was invited in by Michael Noonan. The Government has allowed this to happen. The company is walking away with profits of hundreds of millions of euro, and not a sod has been turned, or a single house of any description delivered, never mind affordable or social housing. That is what is going on. A small number of people, facilitated by the Government, are profiting from the human misery being experienced by hundreds of thousands of our citizens. That is not acceptable. I appeal to the public to come out on the streets next Wednesday, outside the Dáil, when this issue will be raised again.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Niall Cussen, from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, said at the Dublin economics workshop that the State will not be building social housing at scale because it has failed in the past. The Minister has not said that in the House. I do not know what people are saying to each other, but there is a serious lack of honesty in how this crisis is being dealt with. I do not believe anyone is trying to pretend that this problem is easy to fix. It is not.

As I have repeatedly stated, however, the Minister is listening to the wrong people. He is listening to those with a vested interest in things remaining the way they are. Whatever pressure he is under from officials in the Department or from people with a lot more money than most, I do not for the life of me understand why he has not looked at a different avenue.

I pointed out to the Taoiseach today that the Government's Land Development Agency and NAMA's financing of developers and funds is presenting housing at a cost of €100,000 more per unit than would be the case if the Government were providing it. The Minister has no faith in local authorities, but why has he not got the wherewithal to fix what is wrong? Why does he not address the fact that we are always going to have a major issue with affordability until Government actually deals with it? We introduced a tax of 25% to be imposed on landbanking, but I do not believe the Government has an appetite for it. The Government has to change the way it looks at this, particularly as it owes as much to the people of Ireland.

I have less than two minutes, so I will not take a breath. I will not support any personal comments about the Minister, but I have no hesitation in supporting this motion. I have been here for just over two and a half years, and I have listened to three successive Ministers. Deputy Kelly was holding the fort when I arrived in the Dáil and was followed into the job by Deputy Coveney and, now, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. All three have one thing in common; they relied utterly on the market to provide. The Minister has tinkered with that market and made matters much worse. We have repeatedly presented positive solutions in the House. Significantly, almost a year ago I took part in a debate on a motion tabled by Deputy Healy and begging the Government to recognise that there was an emergency, that business as usual was not working and that it should do something different.

I am appalled that the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, would talk about social housing or big projects as "failed". That is not my experience. I am proud to be the product of a local authority estate. Leaving aside my own personal feelings, I am absolutely appalled that the Minister would make such a comment to justify his appalling policy of relying on a market that looks on a home as a commodity, something for profit.

There are solutions. Recognise housing as a basic human right; a right to dignity, a right to a home. Enshrine it in our Constitution. Use public land to build public housing. Have the State play a fundamental role in the market. Give the market a role, but balance that. Stop insulting people and he should stop the insults to Sinn Féin. Whatever the Minister's personal view of that party, there is a serious emergency and we require a serious solution that he is not giving us.

A short film, "Through the Cracks" was shown in the AV room earlier. It shows the effect this scandalous situation has on children and their mothers. I could not make it to the showing because I was at a committee meeting, but my parliamentary assistant went and was very much affected by the film. He said that every single Deputy on the opposite side of the House, namely, those in Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance, should watch the film. It really exposes the impact the housing crisis is having on families. We can call what is happening a crisis or an emergency; I call it an absolute scandal. Regardless of how we look at the figures and at what is or is not happening, it is obvious that the situation is simply scandalous. There are 180,000 houses vacant nationwide. Speculators are sitting on development land. Local authorities and State companies are holding 70% of all zoned land, which would be sufficient for building more than 110,000 dwellings overall and 70,000 in Dublin city alone. Young workers are spending up to 70% of their incomes on rent. Accommodation for students is completely unaffordable. More than 3,000 children are in emergency accommodation, a figure that is rising year on year, month on month and week on week. I can have no confidence in the Minister. He has failed to grasp the nettle and radically change policy.

Let us be clear, however. The Minister did not create this crisis. He inherited it from his predecessor, Deputy Coveney, who inherited it from Deputy Kelly, who inherited it from Fianna Fáil. The problem in this area has obtained for the past 20 or 30 years. The policy of abandoning local authority housing, adopted by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour when in government, lies at the root of the problem. Local authorities dominated by the same parties must share the blame. They were happy to offload what they viewed as a burden. There is a solution; public housing on public land and a mix of local authority housing and cost-rental units with affordable rents and security of tenure. Until such a policy is adopted, financed and implemented, this scandal will continue to obtain.

The housing crisis is now of catastrophic proportions. I have been a public representative for 20 years and I have never had to present people with the responses and the lack of hope we are obliged to present them with now. Council staff are utterly demoralised. The Taoiseach indicated this morning that the Minister is delivering houses. What sort of houses is he delivering? More houses are being delivered in this city for €700,000 than for €300,000. Whatever chance two hospital consultants might have of getting together to buy one of those houses, people on the average industrial wage certainly cannot do so. Revenue tells us that 8% of people have incomes that would allow them to buy an average semi-detached home in Dublin on the basis of current lending criteria. For whom is the Minister building these houses? Where is the affordability? Is it the affordability for vulture funds of selling or renting them back to people at extortionate levels? The situation is absolutely critical. The Minister has commodified the right to shelter and I have no confidence in any member of the Government.

As the Minister is aware, something of the order of 5,000 individuals and families in the Dublin Bay North constituency I represent are on the city council's housing list and a further 2,500 are on the transfer list. When the Fingal part of our constituency is added - I see the Minister of Education and Skills, Deputy Bruton, is in attendance - we have by far the worst housing list in the country, higher than any other county, the whole of Fingal or the whole of south Dublin. In fact, as the Minister knows, this year Dublin City Council has only delivered 330 new tenancies in respect of a housing list of 26,000. The painfully slow and feeble steps taken by the Minister and his predecessor have done absolutely nothing to alleviate the suffering in my own constituency over the past two years. He is still putting families with children into cramped hotel rooms nearly 18 months after Deputy Coveney promised us faithfully that he would end this practice. The Minister is still putting them into hotel rooms despite the damaging impact on children's development, nutrition and well-being, matters about which we know from so many studies. He has forced families into hubs. There was supposed to be a six-week turnaround. That has not happened. He refuses to adopt any of the suggestions from this side of the House, including declaring a housing emergency, freezing rents, having a real affordable housing scheme and doing something drastic about the situation in Dublin in particular. The Minister has failed and he should go. I am of the view that those in Fine Gael and their predecessors, namely, their counterparts in Fianna Fáil who embarked on this disastrous housing policy, should be banished from Government for at least a generation.

Deputy Broughan has always been very constructive. Fair play to him.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on the motion regarding confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. I have pleaded with the Minister time and time again and informed him that immediate action is needed to tackle the housing problem. The majority of those who are becoming homeless are from the private rental sector. We are all too aware that rents are rising to unsustainable levels. It has nearly come to the point where renting is more expensive than making monthly mortgage repayments. An endless list of my constituents from Kinsale to Goleen are unable to get on the property ladder and have to resort to paying huge rents.

I am aware of several shovel-ready projects in bigger towns in west Cork where planning permission has been given but where the green light has not been given to the people involved, who are willing to sell to the council. Meanwhile, they are still looking for sites in these towns where planning permission must still be sought. There are a lot of political shenanigans going on in west Cork that need to be looked at. I am looking at them.

During negotiations on the programme for Government, we spoke about a rural resettlement scheme. Depopulation is a worrying trend in rural communities. Eight businesses have been closed in the past three weeks in my constituency. Communities do not stand still. They either develop or decline. As the housing crisis in our towns and cities worsens, there was never a better time to actively promote the concept of rural resettlement. This scheme has been rolled out in County Clare. When can we see it applied to west Cork? This is not my first time asking this question. A plan needs to be put in place to source and build affordable housing in rural communities to enable urban-based families to move to rural areas through a rural resettlement scheme. Rural resettlement needs to be explored and promoted. It is time this Government listened and took real action.

If I saw real action being taken on rural resettlement, I might be able to stand here with some degree of confidence in the Minister. Action needs to be taken to protect rural Ireland and those living there. In the past two weeks, Cork County Council passed a vote of no confidence in the Minister. This was not personal but any honest politician could not stand for what is happening today. I will support the council by supporting this motion.

I am glad to be able to speak on the motion. I am not being personal about the Minister but we are sick and tired of Ministers with responsibility for housing. The Minister is the sixth person in the position in the past eight or nine years. We have had announcement after announcement but nothing happens. The Minister was in Clonmel, County Tipperary, last Thursday where he turned the sod for 26 units in Glenconnor. The same sod had been turned by the previous Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, two years ago. How many times must the sod be turned? He should get out and do the job and let people have houses.

That day I asked the builder, whom I know quite well, from Semiton, which is a good company, when he will start work. He is waiting for the letter of offer. I wonder how long he will wait for it. This is the game being played by the Government. It is playing games with people's lives and it is very sad. In the upcoming budget it would be prudent if the Government taxed and put manners on the vulture funds and removed the punitive charges on people in shops in towns and villages who want to change them back to living accommodation but face a 50% or 60% charge between council charges and VAT.

During the talks on a programme for Government we asked the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, to do something about VAT but he said a reduction could not be given to the builders. I asked why it could not be given to people building their own homes. Dozens of people want to build houses in rural Tipperary. Young couples who have the wherewithal and a site cannot get planning permission. It is a dog in the manger job. The Government will not build but it will not allow people to build either. I do not know what is driving it or what philosophy is behind it but the Government does not want to build houses.

There is way too much spinning for anybody to bear. More than 3,000 people are on the housing list in Tipperary and thousands more are trying to get onto it but the houses are not there. The Government must allow ordinary small builders to get out there and force the banks to give them cash. It is blocking community banking being offered in post offices. Small builders who would do the work cannot get cash. They are not rip-off merchants or big developers. Ordinary people who have houses or sites and want to build their own houses are regulated out of all proportion. We have regulation and red tape but no tangible supports for people to allow them to do the simple things we need to do. I do not mean huge plans such as Rebuilding Ireland, which has been a failure, but ordinary simple measures. The Government can do this through the budget and the negotiations on a renewed confidence and supply agreement, which will be conducted after the budget.

I am delighted to see that yesterday, a company in my area, Horizon Offsite Limited, announced job increases. It is a steel frame company that is building thousands of houses in England but cannot get accreditation here. I believe it has almost got it now. These people want to work here and can do so. They are entrepreneurs and should be left to do the work. Remove all of the red tape and allow them to work here. I am not saying we should slash regulations. I am saying we have too much red tape and it takes too long for the Department to approve local authority projects. The Government blames local councils and councils blame the Department. For years I have asked that all county managers meet the Minister to have it out with regard to who is blaming who. Get it sorted and let the people have houses. The Government has the budget to do it now.

I am glad to have an opportunity to speak again on housing. I will not blackguard the Minister or be personal in my contribution. Unfortunately, the Government blames the local authorities and wrongly so. A total of €62.5 million was promised in 2015 to Kerry, not by the Minister but by his predecessor, in what was practically the same Government. The Government did not say how long it would take for all of the money to come but I can guarantee that not much of it has come yet. The Department is slowing down local authorities with too many hurdles. In Kerry, ten rural cottages are to be built between 2016 and 2021. People are providing their own sites. Councillor Johnny Healy-Rae received a reply in a notice of motion at a council meeting the other day and I also received it. People who begin to look for a rural cottage now will have to wait three years before somebody will come out to them because the funding is not there. That is wrong.

Demountable homes are all over Kerry for single farmers who finish up in a house that is not good enough to live in but we cannot get any more of them. The Taoiseach did not know what I was speaking about when I mentioned demountable homes.

The Government will not allow the local authority to zone enough land, and what is happening is that one piece of land is developed and that developer has the monopoly to charge what he or she likes for the houses built on it. There should be competition. Zoning does not really matter. The planning authority can decide how many houses will be granted but it is wrong to grant them all on one side of a town and to allow one developer to have a monopoly.

With regard to the tenant purchase scheme, which was parked for a number of years, many people who have paid rent for their houses for 30 or 40 years are not allowed to buy them just because they are on a pension. That is very unfair after they have paid rent for 30 or 40 years. They have the savings but they are not being allowed to buy the houses because they are on social welfare and someone has to be working to qualify for the tenant purchase scheme.

Thank you, Deputy.

There is no need in the world for repossessions. During negotiations on a programme for Government, and at other times, I asked that local authorities be allowed to purchase these houses and rent them back to people for fair rent.

The time is up, Deputy, please.

Perhaps they would get on their feet and have enough to buy out the houses.

Deputy, please.

Project Ireland 2040 states planning in rural areas will be granted if it will not detract from urban centres. That is very unfair and hurtful to people in rural Ireland.

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat, please.

I will share time with Deputies Catherine Murphy, Fitzmaurice and Healy.

We support the motion because our solutions to the housing crisis are better than the Minister's solutions. It is as simple as that. We want a site value tax to bring development back into the core, the Minister is following an old-fashioned sprawl development model. We want better building regulations, the Minister has been lowering apartment standards. We want a cost rental model to bring the price of rental properties down, the Minister is just pouring billions into the housing assistance payment every year, which is a subsidy to developers. We want tight vacant and derelict site charges, the Minister wants to give back the city and not take it back. We want Part V to be strengthened, the Minister wants to sell State land to private developers. We fundamentally disagree politically and that is what this vote is about.

We do not trust the Minister's numbers. Today, the Taoiseach said the numbers do not lie. I will give one example. Part V figures show the number of houses built supposedly jumped from 37 in 2016 to 522 in 2017 but of those, 55 were second-hand homes in Dublin City Council's area that were never built but bought off the market. Another 148 were long-term leases under Part V which were not actually built. We do not trust the Minister's figures and we do not like the solutions he proposes. He stands for the status quo and we want change.

I listened to the Minister on "Morning Ireland" today when he dismissed legitimate criticism as a stunt and repeatedly claimed he was making progress. I believe the numbers do not lie but I do not accept the Minister's numbers. The numbers tell the real and harrowing story of four families a day becoming homeless. The Minister speaks about needing to solve the housing crisis and his predecessors all said that it takes time. We have been listening to this for years.

This problem stretches way back but something that has made it much worse, and I remember the night it was introduced, is the housing assistance payment legislation. It was an attempt to outsource responsibility and reduce housing waiting lists by removing people from them. The €900 million we spend annually subsidising landlords and homelessness services is projected to increase to €1.7 billion by 2022. This is not a sustainable solution.

I listened to the Minister's numbers. We disputed in the Chamber the use of the number of ESB connections to compile housing completion figures. It is now accepted that these are not reliable.

Even if half the number of social housing units relayed by the Minister were being delivered, we would see him or the Minister of State on the news every night handing out keys to families. We are not seeing those pictures because we are not seeing delivery of those houses. It has taken a long time for the penny to drop, particularly with sections of the media, that much of what has happened here is pure spin.

This is not just down to the Minister, and I agree that this matter should not be personalised. However, not only do I not have confidence in the Minister, I do not have confidence in this Government and its approach to resolving the problem. It will not listen to alternative approaches, of which there have been many in this Chamber over recent years.

I support the motion. The Minister should go, and he should take this Government with him. Housing is a fundamental human right and it should be enshrined in our Constitution. Families need a stable and secure long-term housing position to live, grow and develop. A Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Government handed over the public house building programme to the private market, and that failed policy has been continued by successive governments, including the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government and this Government of Fine Gael supported by the Independent Alliance, despite its absolute failure. It has failed miserably and it has been a disaster for families.

Fine Gael has had seven years to tackle the housing crisis but the only result is that housing in all its aspects has been made a commodity by successive governments. It has become a commodity in an uncontrolled private commercial market. The current Government and this Minister have made things worse. We have 10,000 people homeless, including 3,500 children, and there are 100,000 families on local authority housing waiting lists. There are 30,000 families on the despicable housing assistance payment, HAP, scheme, thousands of people couch surfing or living with relatives and friends, and thousands of others caught between a rock and a hard place because they are over the limit for a local authority house but do not have enough income to be approved for a mortgage. Rents are still spiralling outrageously and house prices are still soaring, despite mortgage rates being twice the European Union average.

Would Deputies believe that the Minister has claimed that the Government's policies are working? This is not only an example of reality denial but is an insult to the victims of this so-called success, the homeless. The Minister should go, and he should take this Government with him.

This is not personal, but the reality is there is chaos in every aspect of housing currently. In fairness, no Minister can click his or her fingers and build houses overnight. Sadly, the figures that have come out over the past two years have been lies and damned lies. I have a problem with the people who gave the Minister those figures because they have felt no repercussions for those false figures relating to house builds, especially social houses. Anyone who checked those numbers knows there are major discrepancies. Figures and words were twisted, including those relating to turnkey properties. There are words like "brownfield" and "greenfield", but at the end of the day it is about what has been built and how many families have gone into those houses.

We can speak of affordable housing, social housing, low-cost renting and people trying to buy council houses or get a loan from councils. Unfortunately, the process has been a shambles from beginning to end. The Minister has advisers, so where are they in all of this? The person at the top must call the shots and no one should keep getting a salary if there is no result. These people gave the Minister those figures and statistics, which have basically embarrassed him through the years. The captain of the ship must replace some staff if they are not pulling their weight. Unfortunately, these people are getting the same wages regardless of whether houses are built. Throughout this country and especially in the cities, people are crying out for houses. As I said, the houses will not come overnight, but unless the Minister changes the system inside, the cover-ups and false statistics, he will be in real trouble.

The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, said that no one on these benches had a monopoly on compassion or empathy, and I agree completely. No one on these benches believes we have that monopoly. The Government does not have a monopoly on solutions either, however, and there are solutions being suggested right across the Chamber. The Government seems to think it has a monopoly on solutions, which is half of the problem.

We need to stop people entering into homelessness as well as having policies and building programmes to take people out of homelessness. One of the reasons people are becoming homeless, according to the evidence I see in my office, is people renting privately, especially those in the HAP scheme, receiving eviction notices. These notices are served on the basis that major refurbishment is to be carried out or there is a plan to sell the property within three months of it being vacated. The reality, from my experience in Cork city, is that the majority of cases involve landlords using these loopholes to evict tenants. They have no intention of selling the property or having family members moving in, for example. They have no intention of carrying out major refurbishment and are using such schemes to get around the so-called rent controls. They are hiking rents to astronomical levels and people are being turfed out on the street as a result. If the Minister is serious about addressing the reasons people are entering homelessness, he should tackle these loopholes that are used by landlords to evict people and make them homeless.

"Ireland's housing market is clearly not functioning at present." That is a quote from IBEC, and it, along with other organisations, has a major concern that this is affecting our ability to attract foreign direct investment. Not only has this Government's housing plan failed, it has made the problem worse. The housing crisis is not an emergency that fell out of the sky and the current position arose from choices. The Fine Gael Party has been a part of the Government for seven years. Fianna Fáil made choices to benefit the wealthy few at the expense of many. The choices in question include a failure to build council and affordable houses, the consent for mortgages to be sold to vulture funds, the refusal to put in place a rent freeze, and the continued belief that the plan is working. There has been a sheer disregard for people in homelessness.

Since the Minister took office, homelessness in Limerick has risen from 278 people to 307, while rent prices have increased by over 21% in one year and 71% in the past five years. If Fine Gael, or Fianna Fáil for that matter, really wanted to help the thousands of citizens who remain homeless, they would prioritise these people over tax cuts in next month's budget. Neither of the parties will do that. It is the same choice they made last year, and money comes first while people come second.

I wrote to the Minister on 19 July and I have not yet received a reply. My query came about because I was informed by Limerick's council on numerous occasions that it was awaiting funding approval from the Department to provide houses.

That has been done.

I estimate there are 70 council houses or properties in Limerick that are either vacant or boarded up. I have details of more than 40 in a list before me. For example, 55 Shanabooly Road, Ballynanty, was allocated to a family in February but they cannot move in, while 60 Canon Breen Park in Thomondgate was allocated to a family and they cannot move in because the property is not ready. There is a property at 13 Lee Estate that has been boarded up for two years, and 65 Scanlon Park at Castleconnell village has been boarded up for a year. These properties are in areas where families would love to live. I know this because I meet those families all the time. There are vacant homes in Limerick but there are also 85 families in the mid-west, the bulk of them in emergency accommodation in the city.

It gives me no satisfaction to seek the removal of any Minister, but as the real Opposition party in the Dáil, I am proud to call out this appalling failure and stand up for the interests of the people, especially those in Limerick in desperate need of secure housing.

There is a housing crisis not only in Dublin but throughout the entire country. We see it every day in my constituency of Sligo-Leitrim and across the entire western region. Here in Dublin, we meet it at its most extreme.

Earlier today, I heard the Minister say houses are being built, cranes are up, people are working and building is happening. Building of a certain type of housing is happening, namely, housing for the very wealthy. There is no housing for the people who cannot afford that. There are blocks of accommodation for students with rents of €1,000 a month, which they cannot afford. That is the kind of housing that is being built. It is not the type of housing that we need to provide homes and shelter for ordinary working people who go out every day and try to get on in life.

A motion of no confidence in a Minister is a long-established process used in this House and every parliament in the world. It is a means of highlighting an issue and holding a Minister to account, not a stunt. It has been used by the Minister's party and every other party in this Chamber for years. To call it a stunt is a disgrace.

The private market, the way the Minister wants to go, will only provide for social need in the most extreme circumstances. It does not normally provide for social need, as I have seen in my area recently. This problem affects rural and urban areas. The Minister has failed to such an extent that it is time for him to face up to reality and step aside.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. In the past, housing was seen as a basic social need. Between 1932 and 1950, between one third and half of all housing built was social housing. In the bleak 1930s, more than 38,000 houses were built. In the hungry 1950s, 52,000 houses were built. In the 1970s, when the economy was not exactly booming because of the oil crisis and everything else, nearly 62,000 social houses were built. All that building occurred in the context of a smaller population and less money being available to the State. We do not have a programme in place to get houses built quickly. The process is moving at a snail's pace.

As I have stated to the Minister inside and outside the Chamber previously, the four approval stages for the construction of local authority housing are part of the problem because they include at a total of 19 different stages. Stage 11 requires scheme design drawings to be supplied. The Minister came to County Laois to open 34 houses in Conniberry Way. Those 34 houses are welcome but, as part of that scheme, 120 drawings were exchanged between the Minister's Department and Laois County Council before approval was given to move to stage 12. I want the Minister to leave office and his successor to go over to the Custom House and sort out that issue. That is what the Government needs to do because it is slowing up the whole process.

There are 1,701 households on the housing waiting list in County Offaly and 1,575 in County Laois. Furthermore, 260 people have presented as homeless in Laois so far this year. Rents in the county have increased by 13.1% in the past year. In Offaly, they have increased by 11.9%. A street cleaner with Laois or Offaly County Council with a large family cannot get on the housing waiting list because the threshold is too low. The cut-off point is a weekly income of €500 or an annual income of €29,000 for a family with four children. Sinn Féin has put forward alternatives, such as doubling capital investment, introducing a rent freeze, increasing the availability of affordable housing and providing tax relief for renters. Those are the types of measures that are needed and the Minister has not implemented them.

Is it any wonder the Minister - and, by extension, the Government - is facing a vote of no confidence? The Government, with the collaboration of Fianna Fáil, has been in power for nearly three years and Fine Gael was in power with the Labour Party from 2011 to 2016. Fianna Fáil was the architect of this crisis. It is no surprise that its Deputies will abstain in the vote on this motion of no confidence. Fianna Fáil is equally complicit in this housing and homeless crisis. Through the so-called confidence and supply arrangement, it remains fully committed to this Government's failed policies, going as far as not supporting a motion which would have declared a housing emergency. Fianna Fáil has no credibility and oozes hypocrisy when it comes to housing.

The Minister cannot use the excuse of being in the job for 18 months or ask us to give him a chance. The Government has had its chance for years and it has failed. The Minister is the continuation of this failure and neglect. Under his watch, the homeless and housing crisis has worsened. He has failed to meet his own targets and commitments. He has failed to deliver affordable and social housing. He has stood over massive rent increases and unsustainable house prices. How can he justify 100,000 people being on the housing waiting lists, 10,000 people being homeless and 4,000 homeless children living in hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation? The number of families becoming homeless has increased by 24% since July 2017. One in three of those in emergency accommodation is a child. This homeless crisis is creating a lost generation. Children are being traumatised daily. This is one of the hidden costs of homelessness and the housing crisis. The human cost of the Minister's failures has been enormous.

How can the Minister justify the delays in redevelopment schemes? We have been waiting for 15 years for the redevelopment of O'Devaney Gardens, 12 years for the redevelopment of Dominick Street, five years for the redevelopment of North King Street and ten years for the redevelopment of Croke Villas. Public-private partnerships have been promised but are still on the shelf. Behind all these failures and statistics are families and children facing an uncertain and dysfunctional future. The Minister's failed policies do not only destroy futures, they destroy families and lives.

The Minister revealed his hand when he said he was opposed to the building of social housing. I come from social housing on a large-scale housing estate, as do some members of the Minister's party. The vast majority of people were born in social housing. The Minister should cop on and realise the only answer is to build more social and affordable housing.

I am pleased to express full confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. Sinn Féin, with characteristic hypocrisy, seeks to personalise a highly complex problem, the causes of which are well known to everybody. The goal this evening is to inflict maximum political damage and feed a myth that one person alone can either solve or create a crisis. As always with Sinn Féin, the rhetoric of their spokespersons at national level is contradicted by the actions of their foot soldiers at local level where they have a history of opposing housing proposals.

Given the personalised attack on the Minister, I want to state on the record that I know Deputy Eoghan Murphy very well. I can attest to his incredible work ethic and his 24/7 commitment to resolving the housing crisis. In his actions to seek a resolution, the Minister takes a multifaceted, strategic approach that is already steadily yielding dividends. I strongly support his responsible approach to long-term planning.

I represent County Laois and can speak with some authority about the consequences of poorly thought out housing policies. During the Celtic tiger years, thousands of houses were built all over Laois, including on flood plains and at the edges of villages. Fields of houses appeared everywhere and the county did not have the infrastructure to cope. Deputy Stanley knows this better than anyone.

When the economy went over the cliff, thanks to Fianna Fáil, my county was littered with ghost estates. We are still playing catch-up with school places, hospital beds and other vital services. I applaud the Minister for visiting my county on numerous occasions. He is well aware of the terrible mistakes of the past. I was a Member of this House during the years of the Celtic tiger and I remember the crazy policies that Fianna Fáil introduced. I remember the high price we paid for populism and chaos. We owe it to the people of Ireland to learn from the mistakes of the past and the Minister absorbs the lessons well.

The housing problem demands a constructive approach and engagement from everybody in this House, from all sides. It does not need cynical political opportunism of the type we are seeing from Sinn Féin. I reject the cynical motion.

The empty vessels of Sinn Féin have spent months attacking the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. They have personalised their housing attack on the Minister and consistently threatened the stunt we are witnessing tonight in the motion of no confidence. They rolled out this old chestnut every time there was a slow news week. Tonight we see the hypocrisy of Sinn Féin in action. Sinn Féin has no solutions. The motion has no alternatives to rebuild Ireland. It calls only for the introduction of a new housing plan. Where is Sinn Féin's plan? We are still waiting.

We know that Sinn Féin has no plan here because it had no plan when it was in government in the North of Ireland. Those in Sinn Féin continually namecheck and get incorrect - which is not unusual for Sinn Féin - the numbers on the actual housing waiting list in the Republic. I say this only to show the sheer hypocrisy of the people to my left. The population of the Republic of Ireland is 4.8 million. Yes, we have 80,000 people on our housing list and that is too high.

It is 80,000 families, not people.

Yes, we have 10,000 people who are homeless and it is too high. However, in Northern Ireland there are 49,500 people on the waiting list for a population of 1.8 million.

What are they doing about that?

There are 11,889 men women and children homeless in the North where Sinn Féin ran from power.

The Minister is embarrassing herself now.

Please, I must insist that the Sinn Féin Deputies allow the Minister to speak without interruption.

It is the truth. When Fianna Fáil was acting responsibly in 2016 in supporting the minority Government that was established, Sinn Féin went to the cinema because it had no plan. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.

We set up a housing and homelessness committee that sat for weeks.

Sinn Féin has no policy except hypocrisy. They call for houses to be built as though they had magic beans. Their magic beans did not work in Northern Ireland and their hypocrisy and policy of spin will not work down here, lads and ladies.

They should get their act together and bring forward a policy and a plan that would potentially be an objective to what we are in instead of the stunts we are used to - hauling everyone into the Dáil or the time Mary Lou put everyone out of here for hours. It is wasteful, needless time when we have work to do. They are pathetic.

Before we proceed any further, I ask if the Ministers responding to the debate would address the Chair. They are provoking the Sinn Féin Deputies by speaking directly to them. As a proper parliamentary tactic, they should please address the Chair. I ask the Sinn Féin Deputies again to behave responsibly.

There is no point of order. The Minister of State should resume his seat.

Two minutes were wasted-----

The Minister of State will resume his seat.

There were ten minutes-----

The Minister of State should resume his seat. I call the Minister, Deputy Michael Ring.

I will try not to upset them on this side of the House because I know they are very sensitive and they do not like to be criticised. I stand here tonight as someone who came from a social house. I came from a place called Fr. Angelus Park and am very proud of it. I was the first child born in it. There were 40 houses in that estate, out of which came the finest quality of people.

I came here tonight to support the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. They tell us that he does not support social housing. Yes, he does and he has.

He said here earlier that he does not support large scale social housing. He said that.

Deputy Ellis-----

Dessie, we will have no bullying now from you.

Will the Deputy please show some respect? Minister, please. The Deputy will show some respect for the Dáil.

Sinn Féin has an answer for everything but no solutions. They collapsed their Government in Northern Ireland. They would not go into government in the South. The will not represent the people who want them to represent them in the House of Commons regarding Brexit. What are they elected for at all? They do not want to take part in any conversation. They do not want to take part in government. The Minister, Deputy Murphy, has taken part in this Government. Remember two years ago, this side of the House could have formed a Government but it cannot take part and be out there protesting against everything which is what this side of the House does all the time: protest, protest, protest. This Minister is providing solutions. As far as I am concerned, I see how the Minister works at Cabinet. He is interested in the problem, he is working on the problem and he will solve the problem. It is not easy. It is difficult. There are many people hurting tonight, and a lot of people homeless. This motion has been put down by Sinn Féin to get rid of a good man who is doing the best job possible when its only answer was to walk out of Government in the North, it walked out of Government in the South and it will not represent us in the House of Commons where we need them most in relation to Brexit. If it does not have a solution, Sinn Féin may keep their mouths shut because protest will not build one house in this country.


Hear, hear.

I hope that additional time will be added because of the interruptions from the Opposition.

Well, no, the Minister of State could take the time he has got, please.

It clearly is personal when so many members of the Opposition say it is not. We all know it is personally directed at the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy.

I concur with my colleagues on these benches about the efforts being made to resolve this huge crisis. At least we are rising to address this challenge unlike the people over there. Sometimes I wonder whether it is this Parliament or that in Westminster from which it abstains because its contribution to both is equally useless. In this State's history, it has never built a home, it has only pulled them apart. That is all it has ever done on homes in this State.

I welcome that Sinn Féin is taking the parliamentary avenue in trying to take out an opponent but this is a political stunt. It will do nothing to help the people who we are supposed to be helping, those who are seeking homes and those who are in emergency accommodation. They are doing nothing as an Opposition to help. They are being purely political. If they cared about the people they are supposed to care for, they would not turn on Deputy Eoghan Murphy now. They turned away from Government in 2016 because obviously the housing crisis was not as important as its own political interests at that time. It is the same in Northern Ireland. The figures there are shocking. They have shamelessly turned their backs on those people too.

Sinn Féin wants us to believe that it can take 10,000 out of homelessness, yet it could not even manage to get 10,000 signatures out of Antrim. That is what we are dealing with. Now they are after a head. It is in their nature to go after a head. They have gone after the head of the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, the hardest working politician I have come across since I entered the gates of this House almost eight years ago. It is completely political and it is shameless. We have heard many statistics tonight. There is one stands out most - Sinn Féin's 14% rating with RedC. It is the one statistic that Deputy Mary Lou McDonald obsesses about. After only a few short months, she is a huge disappointment. Panic is starting to set in and the response to that panic is this shameless motion.

The Minister of State is only embarrassing himself.

The pressures of Government obviously would not suit Sinn Féin if this is the way that they respond to the pressure of an abysmal poll rating.

I thank the Minister of State.

We are determined to solve this problem. Let us get on with it and let the time wasters be found out.

Thank you very much. Deputy Seán Crowe is next, sharing with Deputies Martin Ferris, Pearse Doherty and David Cullinane.

There has been a lot of talk about this being personal. For me, the housing crisis is personal. I know people who are sleeping in cars, who are living in sheds. I have come across people I know who are sleeping in doorways. I know people who committed suicide when they lost their home. Three days ago, I received a letter from a woman who said she was going to commit suicide. The Minister received the same letter, as did the people in Pieta House. Therefore, for me, it is personal. It is personal, I do want solutions and we have put solutions forward. Only a fool would suggest that the Minister's measures are working. I can go through the statistics, and everyone has done that tonight. The figures are there. We have a broken system. We are not delivering for people. We are not delivering for those on housing lists or for those who are in rental accommodation who have their rents go up; it is not sustainable. People who would almost have been guaranteed to be able to afford a home, the likes of gardaí, nurses and teachers, cannot afford a home. Who are we building the homes for? Are they for landlords, for vulture funds? The system is not working, and that is what we are saying. There are solutions but the Minister is not delivering them.

Today, I received a letter from a councillor in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, not my area. He said that the Minister is blaming the councils but he says that the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council put forward a proposal for 540 new social and affordable housing units on a site in Shanganagh Castle, the old prison site. It is eight months since that local authority applied to the Department for one stage of approval.

Eight months on, that approval has not been granted even though it is the biggest council-led housing scheme in the State and is being backed by 40 councillors. There is a problem in this regard. The Minister is not delivering on this. He was talking about hubs. We have hubs in our area. The problem is that people are going into the hubs and hotels, but they are not moving out of them.

That is not true.

Housing is not being delivered on the ground.

That is not true.

I do not know what people are telling the Minister of State. I do not think the people sitting behind him are gobshites or fools. They know what is going on. If they do not know what is going on, there is something wrong. There is something wrong if they do not realise what is going on in their communities and in this country. We are all affected. The Minister is affected, I am affected and everyone else in this House is affected. We have to come up with solutions. The Minister is not delivering and that is why this motion has been put before the House.


Hear, hear.

As we sit comfortably in this building, 145 of my constituents - 109 adults and 36 children - are sleeping in hostels and bed and breakfasts. Sixteen families are in emergency accommodation because they cannot find homes, and another 13 families cannot find rental accommodation because they are in transition properties. A total of 3,687 people have applied for social housing in County Kerry and a further 1,000 people are on the transfer list. A total of 517 new social housing applications were made between January and June of this year. By the end of this year, there could be more than 4,000 applicants on Kerry County Council's housing list. These figures do not include the rental accommodation scheme or leasing schemes. The Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, attacked us across the floor. He is aware of the housing list in County Kerry. He is aware of the circumstances in the county. He has tried to tell this Chamber in this debate that the Government is dealing with the problem.

This circus is doing nothing to help.

Will the Minister of State tell me how many houses Kerry County Council built last year?

The Deputy is wasting time.

It built five houses.

The Deputy is turning his back on the people who are most in need.

Five houses were built in County Kerry at a time when there are 4,000 people on the housing list.

This is a circus.

The Minister of State has attacked Sinn Féin for tabling a motion against the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, and the Government.

The Deputy and his colleagues have not built any houses.

The Government has failed the ordinary people of this country, including the 4,000 people on the housing list in County Kerry.

They have failed the 100,000 people on the housing list in the country as a whole. Instead, the Minister of State has come in to this Chamber with his garbage.

I listened to Deputy Cassells. He was talking about a photocopy, but his gob was on the front page of the paper. He castigated Deputy Tóibín for not being present to get his photograph in the newspaper. Instead, Deputy Tóibín was out helping a constituent who is in mortgage difficulties. He was doing the right thing.

He was not worried about getting his puss on the front page of a newspaper.

Sinn Féin ran away from government instead of building houses.

The Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, is attacking us for doing the right thing. I would much prefer to be standing here in opposition attacking the Minister and holding him to account because that is what must be done. The Government has to be held to account. Fianna Fáil is propping it up and is continuing to prop it up. Fianna Fáil is a disgrace, but it is no different from what it ever was. That is all it ever was. It is the very fecking same.

Fair play to the Deputy. He has a great track record. He has a great past.

The stock response from the Minister and all of the Fine Gael speakers has been to ask those of us on this side of the House how we can dare hold them to account for their failures.

The Sinn Féin Deputies are looking for headlines.

How dare we speak for children who are stuck in homeless accommodation, for families who cannot afford to buy a home and for families who are stuck paying high rents? The Minister may not like it, but Sinn Féin is the main Opposition party. Our job is to hold him to account because Fianna Fáil certainly will not do it.

The housing crisis did not happen by accident. We have high rents because the Minister failed to intervene in the market. People cannot get social houses because the Government is not building enough social houses. People cannot get affordable homes and cannot afford to buy homes in Dublin or elsewhere because the Government is not building affordable homes. The Minister needs to take responsibility rather than blaming Sinn Féin or engaging in name-calling.

We were accused of personalising the debate. Then we were accused of being hypocrites, performing stunts, playing political games and being cynical. In fact, the people on the Government side of the House are cynical. They are playing political games. The Minister said we have no solutions. The social housing document produced by Deputy Eoin Ó Broin is a solution. We have produced policies on reforming the private rented sector, reviewing the tenant purchase scheme, creating a vacant homes strategy, and assessing the true level of homelessness.

The documents in question are flimsy looking.

We have looked at the regulation of short-term letting. We produced a capital plan for housing in our alternative budget last year.

The capital plan was three pages long.

More important, the report of the all-party Committee on Housing and Homelessness, which was established at the behest of Sinn Féin, is based on the evidence of the experts who came before the committee and spent many hours talking to politicians about solutions. The Government cannot even implement a report that was agreed by committee members of all parties.

We are implementing the Rebuilding Ireland plan.

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government has a brass neck when he says that we should not do our job. He is being kept in his position because of Fianna Fáil, which is the developers' party.

What about Priory Hall?

His party represents a cosseted and privileged class. I am proud to be a member of a party that represents ordinary working people. Those people are the victims of the Government's housing policies, which have failed many of them.

What about the Sinn Féin victims?

Of course the Minister should resign.


Hear, hear.

Before I came into the Chamber, I watched a little programme that is available online. The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, should watch it. It is about a number of families who have been in homelessness. I was struck by the story of three young children - Emily, Alannah and Glenn - who are about the same ages as my own children. They spoke about their desire to have a house. The programme showed that their mothers and fathers are working all the hours they can get. We saw how their landlords increased their rents and they had no option other than to leave their accommodation. As rents elsewhere were skyrocketing, they had to become homeless. In another case, a landlord sold the house and evicted a family who became homeless. As we sit here at 10 p.m., we must be mindful that 4,000 children are being tucked into bed and put to sleep in emergency accommodation. There are 10,000 people in total in such accommodation tonight. That is what this is about. It is a motion of no confidence in the Minister, but it is about people like Emily, Alannah and Glenn and thousands of others who are like them.

This crisis did not happen by accident. It was not caused by Mother Nature. It is a direct consequence of policy decisions that have been taken by the Government in recent years. It is very simple. If a Government decides not to invest in social and affordable housing and if it does not meet demand, it will have a housing crisis and children like Emily, Alannah and Glenn, and thousands of others, will be without homes. They will not have a roof over their heads and they will have to endure emergency accommodation. We have heard about the social impact and the long-term impact it will have on those children. The social contract is broken because these people have done nothing wrong. Their parents have done nothing wrong. They have tried to better themselves. They have tried to do the best for their children, as any parent would do. They have tried to protect their children from the ravages the world can throw at them.

The Government and its Fianna Fáil partners have let them down time and again by deciding budget after budget not to prioritise investment in social and affordable housing. Instead, it has given tax breaks to banks.

Tá an t-am caite.

It has given tax cuts to the elite and the highest earners in society. That is what has happened. We have given the Government policy after policy. We have proposed that investment in social and affordable housing be doubled. We ask the Government to implement the Focus Ireland amendment. Why would anyone in Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael not support an amendment that would stop landlords who have benefited from State tax breaks evicting families and children and sending them into homelessness? That is what they have done. That is why I have no confidence in the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. That is why my party has no confidence in him. It is why the people have no confidence in him. He should do the right thing and resign. Fianna Fáil Deputies should not sit on their hands on this one. They should stand up and be counted on this issue.

That concludes our debate on the confidence motion.

Question put.
The Dáil divided by electronic means.

The substantial number of Deputies on the "staon" list need to be given a special chance to reflect again. Therefore, I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

A manual vote will now proceed.

Question again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 49; Níl, 59; Staon, 29.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.


  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Zappone, Katherine.


  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Denise Mitchell; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Question declared lost.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 26 September 2018.