Housing: Motion [Private Members]

I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:

— access to secure and genuinely affordable housing is increasingly out of reach for many people;

— from the locked-out generation of students and young workers or unemployed people, to older workers facing into retirement, high-cost insecure accommodation is a reality for too many people;

— the failure of the Government to provide an adequate supply of good quality public housing in sustainable communities lies at the heart of the housing crisis;

— the most graphic symptom of this crisis is the growing number of children living in emergency accommodation;

— a new approach to housing is required to meet the housing needs of all those locked out of the private market including young people, those on modest incomes, those on low pensions, those on council waiting lists, Travellers, people with disabilities, older people and students; and

— important proposals to address the housing crisis have been put forward by a wide variety of groups including the National Homeless and Housing Coalition and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions; and

calls on the Government to:

— declare the housing and homeless crisis an emergency;

— dramatically increase the supply of social and affordable (including cost rental) housing by increasing capital spending on housing to €2.3 billion in Budget 2019, increase Part V requirements to 20 per cent in standard developments and 30 per cent in strategic development zones, prioritise the delivery of public housing on public land, and aggressively target the return of vacant houses to active use;

— reduce the flow of adults and children into homelessness with emergency legislation to make it illegal for landlords, banks and investment funds to evict tenants and homeowners in mortgage distress into homelessness, provide real security of tenure and real rent certainty by linking rent reviews to an index such as the Consumer Price Index and introducing measures to reduce the cost of rent, and introduce a target for ending long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough; and

— hold a referendum to enshrine the right to housing in the Constitution.

I am sharing time with Deputies Ó Broin, Adams, Gino Kenny and Coppinger.

Today, 10,000 people filled Molesworth Street. They could not all even fit on the street. There are still hundreds of students outside the Department of the Taoiseach supporting this motion, which was brought forward by the Raise the Roof campaign and supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the National Housing and Homelessness Coalition, the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women's Council and dozens of housing NGOs and housing activist groups. Most important, this motion is being proposed on behalf of 130,000 families who are waiting a decade and more on housing lists, 70,000 families in serious mortgage arrears, 10,000 people, including 4,000 children, who are in emergency accommodation, a whole generation of young people and working people who are locked out of the housing market because of extortionate rents and property prices, and renters who are afraid they could be evicted this week or next by their landlord.

The response of the Government to this motion is a litmus test for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as to which side they are on. Are they on the side of those hundreds of thousands who need a secure, affordable roof over their heads or are they on the side of vultures, property speculators, corporate landlords and others who are profiting obscenely from the human misery that is the housing emergency? That is the equation. The vast majority in society are losing out because of this housing crisis but a small cohort is watching the profits pile in because of the human misery caused by it.

Our motion sets out an alternative set of proposals to the failed policies the Government has pursued of depending on the private sector, vulture funds and landlords to solve this crisis. It calls for a declaration of a national housing emergency, a dramatic increase in expenditure on public and affordable housing built on public land, including an extra €1 billion in the budget that will be decided next week. It calls for an end to economic evictions into homelessness. It calls for aggressive measures to take control of empty property and unused building land that is being speculated on and hoarded by landlords and vulture funds to make it usable for the housing that people need. The motion calls for rent controls that control rents and bring them to affordable levels. It calls for an increase in the portion that goes to social and affordable housing on private developments from the miserable 10% which we are not even getting up to a minimum of 20% for private developments and 30% for strategic development zones. It calls for a constitutional referendum to insert the right to housing as a basic right into our Constitution. Those alternative proposals are not just a critique of the policies of the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. They are alternative proposals. How does the Minister answer them?

I will put a human face on this. This is just the latest tragic story, of which we hear many. In a way, it captures a lot of the themes that have come up in public debate this week. A woman, Terry O'Reilly, in her 30s is living in her car in Shanganagh Cliffs in Shankill, a council estate where she was brought up. She is sleeping in the car and has gone there because at least in that estate she feels safe. She served eight years in the Irish Army and now she is homeless. As a result of a medical condition, she has to use Lyrica patches, which means it is dangerous for her to go into hostels where there is active drug use because that medication is sought after by active drug users. The only accommodation she is being offered is a hostel in town where there are active drug users. The council will not even give her the right to self-accommodate, which is a miserable alternative to proper, secure housing. That is what we have come to. Someone who served the Irish State in the Army for eight years is sleeping in a car in the estate where she was brought up. Behind every single one of the 130,000 families on the housing list, the 70,000 in mortgage arrears and the 10,000 who are homeless, there is the same kind of human story, misery, anxiety, and fear.

Any Government that cannot deliver a secure, affordable roof over the heads of its citizens is not worth the name of "government". Is the Minister going to change tack? Fine Gael has had seven years of warnings, pleading and appeals from people on this side of the House to break its addiction to the private market and to the profiteering of the speculators and vulture funds that have swooped in on the human misery it has facilitated. We ask it to change tack for the sake of those hundreds of thousands of citizens and for the sake of the young people who are out marching now because their future is being stolen from them while the Government cannot secure an affordable roof over their heads. I appeal to the Government to support this motion and listen to the people outside.

Rebuilding Ireland has failed. That is not just my view, it is the view of the thousands of people who gathered outside the Dáil today. Raise the Roof was not just another march. It marks the beginning of a mass movement demanding change. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions and all of its affiliates, the Union of Students in Ireland, the entire homeless sector, grassroots campaigning groups, Take Back the City, and the entire Opposition have spoken today with one voice. We are telling the Government again that its housing policy is not working. Underinvestment in public, social and affordable housing is not working. Overreliance on the private sector is not working. Repeatedly sticking its head in the sand and defending the indefensible is not working.

It is time for change. The Government will ignore at its peril the thousands who stood outside the House today. They in turn represent hundreds of thousands more: young people locked out of secure and affordable accommodation, families trapped with children in emergency accommodation, single people stuck in a cycle of hostel accommodation and rough sleeping, workers paying more than 30% of their income on mortgages or rent, Travellers living in 19th century squalor, or migrants living in appalling conditions or trapped in direct provision, As many as half a million people are hurting because of the failed housing policies of this Government. The Minister will ignore all of them at his peril.

Today's rally was timed to coincide with this Private Members' motion. Some 47 Deputies have signed it and a majority of Deputies will pass it through the House today. It sets out what the Government should be doing to tackle the housing crisis. The Government keeps telling us that the Opposition has no alternatives. This motion puts that lie to bed. The alternatives are clear. We call on the Minister to declare an emergency to signal his intent to do things differently; double capital investment in public housing in budget 2019 to meet social and affordable housing need; increase the stock of real social and affordable housing by 15,000 units next year; introduce emergency measures to stem the flow of families into homelessness; take action to halt rising rents; and pass legislation to allow the holding of a referendum to enshrine the right to housing in the Constitution. These are all credible policies that we on the Opposition benches have been calling for for years. The Government has ignored us up to now and will probably ignore us again this evening.

Every Fine Gael backbencher knows that the Government's policies are failing. He or she knows that the hundreds of thousands affected by the Government's failure have votes and that he or she cannot ignore all of them.

I genuinely welcome the support of Fianna Fáil for the motion. All those in need of housing demand more than just words from politicians; they want action. Fianna Fáil Members may think they can stand with the people today and get away with facilitating another failed housing budget next week, but the people outside beg to differ. The budget next week will be the litmus test of the sincerity of Fianna Fáil's commitment. If its Members force a real housing budget from the Government, I will stand here and commend them. However, if they fail, they must withdraw their support from the Government and its failing housing policy. Let the people decide who should govern the country.

I commend the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and its members, the National Women's Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Homeless and Housing Coalition and all of the other groups, many of which are represented in the Visitors Gallery. Today marks the beginning of a new mass movement for change in our society. We will not stop until we ensure all people have access to secure and affordable accommodation. I have no hesitation in supporting the motion.

I also commend all of those who took part in the Raise the Roof protest. It was a great demonstration and marked the start of a mass movement for change. Those assembled showed their anger at the Government’s shameful attitude to the almost 4,000 children who are living in emergency accommodation. They expressed their outrage at rents people could not afford. They were protesting against evictions and the Government’s failed housing policy. They were voting for the right to a home. Mar a déarfá i nGaeilge, níl aon tinteán, mar do thinteán féin.

There are more citizens homeless in the State than the combined populations of the towns of Ardee, Castlebellingham, Dunleer, Jenkinstown and Tullyallen in my constituency of Louth. According to daft.ie County Louth has witnessed the greatest annual increase in rental costs. According to the July figures from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the number of adults homeless in the north-east region, including County Louth, has remained unchanged since July last year. Clearly, the Government’s housing strategy is not working. However, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and his colleagues constantly parrot the claim that their plan is working.

Sinn Féin’s housing plan in its alternative budget for 2019 proposes the introduction of temporary tax relief for renters, in tandem with a three-year emergency rent freeze. We would also increase investment in social and affordable housing to tackle homelessness. That is one of the many differences between Sinn Féin and the Government. We believe citizens have the right to a home; the Government does not.

The Taoiseach responded today to a reasonable question from an Teachta Mary Lou McDonald about the Government’s failed housing policy by attacking Sinn Féin’s refusal to stay in government in the North with a party which was denying citizens their rights. The Taoiseach has a duty to uphold the rights of people living in the North, not to attack them. He also knows the efforts Sinn Féin has made and the reprehensible way in which the British Government and the DUP have responded by refusing rights which he knows are being denied at this time. He knows the disrespectful way in which they treat him and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This has nothing to do with the housing emergency in the State, but it is proof of how the Government responds in a dishonest way and brings the Taoiseach’s office into disrepute. It adds to the sense - we saw this on the streets earlier - that the Government does not really care about the homelessness crisis.

People have run out of adjectives to describe the housing crisis. There is a simple reason for it. It comes down to ideology and the Government's neoliberal policy for the past seven and a half years.

I want to address some of the terminology Ministers have been using which I find quite offensive. Using terms such as "ghettoisation" and "free homes" is insulting to anybody who has ever lived in a council house and I call on the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to withdraw them. The Government goes on about the mistakes of the past. However, the provision of social housing has been a social success; the Government's housing policy has been a social disaster. Social apartheid is ongoing.

One of the best examples of the crisis is in Clondalkin. A publicly owned 70-acre site is to be sold to a developer on Monday owing to a policy of the Government and the local authority. I say to our colleagues in the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil that there is an onus on their councillors to vote against this deal. At the height of the worst crisis in our generation we are selling public land to a developer. We cannot do so; the land needs to stay in public ownership.

Today has been fantastic and it is just the start of a bigger movement across the country, but I do not believe the Government is capable of changing the situation. It is bedded down by ideology which is impossible to change. The only way to get rid of the Government is by holding a general election, for which the people are crying out because the longer Fine Gael is in government the more social damage it will do.

Two hundred years ago a preposterous notion was challenged - the divine right of kings. Today an equally preposterous notion has to be challenged - the divine right of private property. We live in a state where 10,000 people are officially homeless and 250,000 workers and young people face housing unaffordability. While there is ample land and resources available to resolve the crisis, the rights of private property prevail. Land hoarding is criminal during a housing emergency and I would like to hear the Minister for Housing, Planning and Environment say this. Private developers are sitting on land waiting for prices to rise. The developer Cairn has enough land to build 14,000 homes in and around Dublin, but it has only built 399 in 2018. The Government's solution is to pay private developers to build on State land, while they hoard their own, which is incredible.

A right-wing ideology is preventing resolution of the housing crisis, while the establishment parties have turned their backs on the provision of public housing. The Taoiseach's stigmatising and divisive remarks last week are a testament to this. He spoke about people who paid versus those who did not. While he did not mention the latter, we all know what he implied. One in five people used to live in public housing; these are the people Fine Gael is stigmatising. Public house building on a major scale rescued tens of thousands of families from the slums and lanes. This generation also needs to be rescued. NAMA should have been turned into an instrument that would end the housing crisis, but, of course, it was not. The Player Wills site on the South Circular Road in Dublin could accommodate about 1,000 affordable homes or apartments for workers and young people in this city where the housing crisis is most acute. Will the Minister intervene to stop the selling off of the site and not allow the development to happen?

The crisis can only be resolved by a large-scale public house building programme. We need an emergency programme. Local authorities and NAMA have enough land zoned residential to build 114,000 homes. They own three quarters of all land zoned residential in Dublin where the crisis is acute. As that land could accommodate more than 71,000 homes, why is it not happening? Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government figures indicate that even if they were built privately, a one-bedroom unit could be built for between €144,000 and €183,000; a two-bedroom unit for between €150,000 and €195,000; a three-bedroom unit for between €167,000 and €209,000; and a four-bedroom unit for between €177,000 and €220,000. They are from private developers and incorporate the price of land. Imagine what could be done on local authority land and if the costs of a private developer were cut out. People could be supplied with affordable homes at half of the price the Minister has touted as being affordable.

We have heard a lot from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on radio today that they want to hear solutions. We have been offering solutions in the Dáil for about five years. The solution is very clear: it is to build on publicly owned land using the resources we have available.

Solidarity has put forward four examples of how this could be done in areas where it has representatives. In Damastown in Dublin West up to 1,200 affordable and social houses and homes could be built. The situation is similar at the sites at Kilcarbery in the South Dublin County Council area which the Government is going to sell, Old Whitechurch Road in Cork city and Belcamp in Dublin Bay North. We have put forward four viable plans, but, unfortunately, we are up against ideological opposition. This is becoming an international phenomenon, whereby governments that follow a like-minded ideology to that of the Government are refusing to invest in the provision of public homes. In America and throughout Europe homelessness is at record levels. The only way the crisis can be resolved is if there is a complete change, with parties that are not wedded to this ideology, that will oppose capitalism and private property rights and build public homes on public land.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

We face a serious crisis and are putting in place emergency responses, some of which were outlined by the Taoiseach earlier today in the Dáil. We need to do more and to do better. I know that the crisis is hurting people today and that tonight children will sleep in hotels and emergency accommodation, which is unacceptable. Of course, I support people's right to protest legally, peacefully and safely. I am glad to be a participant in a democracy in which people can go out and do so. However, we are not protestors here; rather, we are law-makers. We have been elevated to a privileged position, with which comes a mandate and a responsibility to seek to change the law where we believe it needs to be changed in order to do better for the people. That mandate does not just fall on the Government alone; it also falls on each Deputy in this House. Ours is a minority Government. That means that every Deputy is empowered to bring forward the right ideas, to get support for them, to see them through the House and to see the laws changed if we work together. Let us try to do so. Let us try not to use housing and the people who are suffering in the crisis as a political weapon. Let us try not to divide the House on this issue but to find common ground where we can work together. Let me try to do so in two ways. The Government has no ideological position when it comes to housing. I want to see safe houses being built in the right locations for all of the people. I want to see this happen quickly and will use any method at my disposal to do so. I will not oppose a local authority in buying or leasing a home long-term if it gets homeless families out of homelessness more quickly. Where I might have an ideological position, if I can call it that, is where I believe we should use housing policy to deliver mixed tenure and support and unite communities, rather than divide them.

Another issue on which I would like to find common ground in this House is local opposition. I know that Deputies, in every party and none, have gone out and opposed local plans for house building. I know that has happened before.

In fairness, it is usually the Minister's party.

If we all believe, as I do, that we are in a crisis and that we need emergency responses, none of us should leave today and oppose the development of housing in our constituencies. More than that, we should work with councillors in our own parties, or councillors over whom we have influence, to make sure they are not opposing the building of houses. Let the planners do their work, according to the systems in place, and let houses be built because they are needed.

In my contribution last week I spoke about a young mother whom I had had the privilege to meet who was living in a hub and waiting for a home. I told the Dáil that I had told that mother that she was going to receive a home because every family who had gone into the hub before her had been given a home, that we were building thousands of homes to provide social and other types of housing. Earlier this week I was very pleased to hear that she had been allocated a home. While it is fantastic news for her, it is not enough for so many others. It has always been very clear to me that the State has to do the heavy lifting when it comes to resolving the crisis. What that means is a massive housing programme that will see 110,000 social housing homes added to the stock of social housing in the next ten years. Almost 8,000 homes will be added to the stock of social housing this year alone. Thousands are on sites across the country. We have the lists which are published. Houses are being built on local authority land; it is happening and it is important that we continue to support it. As I said, if a local authority needs to buy a home or lease a home long-term to help families out of homelessness, I will not oppose it in a time of crisis. If we look at our plans which came from the Oireachtas joint committee's recommendations, in 2020 and 2021 we will house more people from the stock of social housing than we will in the private rental sector. That is where our plans really begin to show what is being done through the increases in the stock of social housing that are being provided in their thousands.

When we look at the challenges we face in building new homes, one challenge we do not face is a lack of investment by the taxpayer. Some €6 billion of taxpayers' money has been put behind the plan. Asking for the money to double will not lead to delivery being doubled next year or halve the time it takes to build new houses. It does not work that way, as I think people understand.

It could double the number of houses provided.

As we catch up in building more homes - we are doing so - we have to protect people who may not have a home or who are at risk of losing it because they cannot afford the rent. However, freezing rent increases will not help to build new apartments and we need thousands of new apartments. Linking rent increases with inflation is fine when it is low, but what happens if inflation goes up dramatically? What then for the people concerned? As they would not be protected in that instance, we need to be careful. We have rent caps which were agreed to by the House-----

They do not work.

-----but they need to be strengthened. We also need proper enforcement. These changes are coming in the legislation which will be brought before the Dáil in the next couple of weeks. If we work together, we will have that legislation passed very quickly and it will make a real difference for tens of thousands of people throughout the country.

It is not right when a young couple earning good money cannot afford to buy or rent a home, particularly when we see that the economy is going so well, with jobs being created and with many of the social changes that have happened. Not only can people move back home because there are jobs available, but they want to move back home to the new Ireland. How can we help them? We can help them by building new homes. We must do everything we can in that regard. For example, we streamlined the fast-tracked planning process, while 10,000 new places have been made available as a result of the new plan that came online only last year. This year 20,000 new places in which to live will be built and we expect to see 25,000 being built next year. That will do a lot for a lot of people, but we still need to do even more. As a Government, we have taken responsibility for social housing provision away from the private sector and given it back to the State. However, as Minister, I also recognise that it is not acceptable if someone who is not eligible for social housing and will receive all of the State supports will get practically nothing. That is why we need to focus on the issue of affordability. In the 12 months to June, roughly one in two first-time buyers across the country bought a home for less than €250,000. Clearly, many people are able to buy homes, although far too many are not. That is why, for the first time in seven years, I recommenced the affordable housing scheme and this year we are progressing cost rental and affordable housing programmes with the local authorities. Just because a site does not have a certain percentage of affordable scheme houses does not mean the rest of the houses on it are unaffordable; it just means that, for some of them, the State will provide extra help to help those who are working but still struggling.

We have put in place emergency responses to deal with the crisis, but we need more time and also new initiatives. We need to continue to drive the plan we have, as we did in dealing with the jobs crisis. That is how we find solutions. We need to be honest about the challenges we face. We will not pretend that one line in a law can resolve the homeless crisis and will not use housing as a weapon to divide the people.

They have already divided the people.

We will always support people's right to protest. We will always support good ideas in this House that will make a real difference for people .

It is important to remember that Rebuilding Ireland was born out of many proposals and recommendations from across industry and stakeholders. The Peter McVerry Trust's Housing First is very successful and the help-to-buy scheme has proved its worth. There have been calls to expand it even further. Our plan is working, but the plans were never going to be sorted overnight.

Overnight. They have had seven years.


No one else was interrupted. Perhaps people do not like hearing it. There was also a strategy of heckling last week.


Deputy Martin Heydon is entitled to speak, without interruption.

He is insulting people.

The Deputy should not insult the House. He should show some manners.

Deputy Martin Heydon should proceed.

Let me remind Members that for almost a decade the State had no money to build houses. In those years the banks had no money to lend to developers, first-time buyers or any buyer. The construction sector collapsed and workers emigrated. Parents also actively discouraged their children from considering courses such as engineering or apprenticeships. In a normal eight to ten-year period one would expect 200,000 new houses to be built. That is the level we are trying to achieve to catch up.

To suggest that can be done overnight is completely disingenuous. Just like we fixed our massive unemployment crisis through the Action Plan for Jobs, we will fix the housing sector through Rebuilding Ireland. We will fix it for our families, workers, pensioners and children. We are doing it in a co-ordinated way through Rebuilding Ireland, Project Ireland 2040 and the national planning framework. As we work through the finer detail of the regional plans, we will get it right. It is not just about building lots of houses really quickly, although we need that.

That would be disastrous.

We need much more than that. We need to build communities. We need a co-ordinated approach to the sustainable development of our communities to avoid the boom-to-bust mistakes of the past. Our plan is focused on people's quality of life as much as on ensuring they have homes. The communities in which they live must have top-quality schools for all children to attend. That is what Project Ireland 2040 is about. There will be investment in community supports all along the way. Those children's parents will be able to aspire not only to own their own homes but to work locally so that not everyone has to commute on long journeys like so many of my constituents in Kildare. We will continue to drive on with a co-ordinated, whole-of-Government approach because it is the right thing to do and it will deliver for the people in this country in a sustainable way into the future.

I wish to share time with Deputies Casey, Curran and O'Rourke.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Fianna Fáil supports the motion. We would have liked to have had more input into its content, but on balance and accepting its spirit, we support it. The scale and depth of the housing crisis represents the most serious challenge we face as a country today. There are spiralling social housing waiting lists and the scars of homelessness pockmark our cities. Renters struggle to find a place to live and then scrape together money to make ends meet. The dream of home ownership is slipping away from a generation with the lowest rate of homeownership since 1971. The crisis is everywhere. The State must step in and lead, as it did in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s to provide homes for its people.

The motion places housing front and centre on the political stage days before a critical budget. That is exactly where housing needs to be. No party has done more to place an emphasis on housing than Fianna Fáil. We have put forward more than ten Private Members' Bills and motions and we have used our position in the confidence and supply arrangement to press for change. We have not shouted from the sidelines, but have taken action. The upcoming budget must be a housing budget. That is why Fianna Fáil is supporting the principles and spirit of this motion. As a party, we have an important role also in providing stability during fragile Brexit talks. The budget negotiations form an important part of that process. We are committed to acting responsibly and putting forward constructive solutions. This is the only way to make real progress that will deliver bricks and mortar on the ground.

Pressing for this change while providing stability is difficult, but it is, ultimately, the most responsible path forward. Our support for the key principles underpinning this set of proposals should be seen in this light. Unlike the headline grabbing acts of motions of no confidence, today's debate focuses on actual proposals to address the housing crisis. While they do not cover the broad range of issues Fianna Fáil believes should be addressed, the proposals are a start. We will do our part responsibly in progressing these policies and providing a stable Government. In contrast to the approach of others in May, we will not reject the motion's good ideas on the basis of where those ideas emanate from. In comments to the Construction Industry Federation, CIF, yesterday, the Minister stated that future policy changes will not be "too drastic or too dramatic". We need far more innovation, immediacy and ambition than that. I hope genuinely that the Government will reflect on the strong and urgent measures required to get to grips with this crisis. Fianna Fáil will continue to use its role in confidence and supply and, most important, its mandate to press for change

I will discuss the specific measures outlined in the motion before setting out additional steps we believe should be pursued. In declaring a national emergency, we need to be clear about what specific powers are required. The recent Indecon report on a vacant home tax called for a major programme of compulsory purchase orders on suitable residential vacant sites. Equipping local authorities with the resources and clear powers to purchase properties compulsorily would serve two purposes. First, it would directly increase the number of units available for social housing. Second, and just as important, it would send a clear signal of intent to anyone speculating on vacant property and would incentivise its use.

Such moves should not be token gestures designed to tick a box. This requires a measured policy move brought forward in conjunction with other targets. The motion sets out an ambitious target of €2.3 billion in capital spending, or more than double the 2018 level. That would build some 11,500 units in 2019, which is a major increase on the existing target of 7,500 builds and acquisitions for next year. While it is important to set ambitious targets and to put forward the resources to back them up, we must be honest about what can be delivered. Money has to be combined with reform to ensure real delivery. We have to be realistic about how many units can be delivered within planning constraints next year.

Local authorities need to be adequately equipped to direct build, the Department's role must be streamlined and approved housing bodies must be scaled up to meet the challenge. This is not the first time I have called for these changes. Without these fundamental changes to the process of building, we will not get the full impact of the extra money that we need to commit. The two should go in tandem to transform our social housing construction levels. For example, the discretion of local authorities to build to scale without undergoing a protracted procurement process must be reviewed and expanded. The €2 million cap must be lifted, which is a matter we have discussed with the Minister at committee and which he is considering. We are tying the hands of local authorities in the delivery of social housing.

Part V was introduced by Fianna Fáil in 2000 with the aim of ensuring that private development offered some contribution to social value. It also encouraged mixed tenure development which had a broader social benefit. Its operation was beginning to yield significant value before the recession. The decision to slash the allocation from 20% to 10% was a retrograde step and it should be reversed. The State has sufficient land for more than 42,000 units. The newly announced Land Development Agency has the potential to help manage land effectively and bring new units on stream. However, it will not deliver units for years, perhaps four to four and a half years. We come back once again to delivery. Targets and allocations mean nothing if the units are not delivered. The role of the State should not be relegated to middleman for land sales. The State has to take the lead in direct build, supporting approved housing bodies and launching a comprehensive affordable housing scheme. We cannot leave it solely to the market. We need an efficient State that can deliver for its citizens in this most basic of areas.

The rental crisis is driving homelessness further and further towards unprecedented levels. To have 10,000 people and 4,000 children in homelessness is a scar on the conscience of the State. The economic and moral challenge of addressing homelessness demands immediate political action. The measures contained within the motion go some way to targeting the problem. Security of tenure and rent certainty combined with protections from undue evictions should be prioritised.

There are a number of additional steps Fianna Fáil believes it is necessary to take to get to grips fully with this crisis. The strength of a State rests on each citizen having a clear stake in it. Home ownership is the clearest way of securing that link. For this reason, Fianna Fáil has placed a special emphasis on launching a comprehensive affordable housing scheme. I was disappointed at the lack of cross-party support for the proposals my party brought forward last May to deliver affordable housing. I hope that other parties here will reconsider their position and support steps to ensure genuine affordable housing and a proper affordable housing scheme.

Last week, we discussed a motion of no confidence in the Minister. I disagreed with it as it would have brought down the Government in the midst of Brexit negotiations. That would have been a reckless act of political selfishness. Political parties playing political games will not build one additional home. Constructive actions will. There is no silver bullet, but there are better policies. We support this motion in that spirit of urgent, decisive action, co-operation and collaboration in a constructive and responsible way.

Let us work together to get to grips with the crisis that touches every single family in this State. In the dark times of the 1930s we cleared the slums and built houses on an unprecedented scale. With real ambition and political will we can achieve that kind of scale again.

The thousands of concerned citizens who protested outside the gates of Leinster House today are reflective of the nation's view that the Government is still not getting the message on its failures in housing. The message on housing is simple but it also involves radical and realistic action. I stated just last week, and it needs to be stated again, that the Irish housing crisis can be solved. It is resolvable if the resources of our Republic are put fully behind a simple premise, that the Irish State must ensure we have an adequate supply of affordable housing units for both long-term rental by local authorities and for sale to citizens who have the legitimate ambition to own a home. The State must ensure that the right to housing is not just an aspiration that was inserted into our Constitution to make us feel good. The right of Irish citizens to a home is the responsibility of the State to manage. This Government still believes that this is a market anomaly that will fix itself with short-fix improvements to funding. The housing market that operates in Ireland is designed to be boom and then bust. We should have learned the lessons of the disastrous consequences of this model.

The basic commodity needed for any housing is land. That land's value is maximised and hoarded during high-demand periods such as now and bought at rock-bottom prices during low periods. This market cannot be allowed uncontrolled power over the lives of our citizens. The State's responsibility, which will help the stability of the private market, is to build and maintain a large stock of affordable housing units for long-term rental and for sale to families. This simple two-line target will then free up all the other broken parts of the Irish housing system, from homeless families to land hoarding, to finance for builders and prospective homeowners, to the shortage of rental units with rents and sale prices that are out of control.

We all agree that we need to be building at least 10,000 publicly owned units a year, but the Government could only manage 2,000 in all of last year and only 800 in the first six months of this year. The Minister's predecessor, Deputy Coveney, said we would be taken by surprise at how quickly the Government would build houses. We are surprised all right. Those homes are still not built and will not be built for a number of years to come.

This Government's housing policy is not working and needs a sea change in attitude and focus. My colleague, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, has put it in plain language with no spin nor focus groups nor websites needed to make our views in Fianna Fáil understood. My party leader, Deputy Micheál Martin, also did not need to spend public money on expensive public relations consultants when he spoke last night in Trinity College about a concrete policy proposal whereby we believe that the State should provide a subsidy of €50,000 per unit where it is estimated that it costs €210,000 to build a home on State-owned land. This will bring the average cost down to €160,000. This will then be an affordable unit to a household on €45,000 a year.

We could also stop the blame game whereby local authorities are blamed for failures. Our local authorities must be allowed and empowered to build again. Alongside this, the approved housing bodies and co-operatives are well positioned to deliver homes, but all the red tape needs to be reduced.

Next week's budget needs to be a housing budget. It needs to prove that this Government is listening to the citizens outside and to the elected Members in this Chamber. Next week's budget cannot and will not resolve the housing crisis but it can make the dramatic gear shift that is needed from the Government. If the budget starts that process, we in Fianna Fáil will be responsible in ensuring that housing delivery is increased rapidly. We will not exploit this crisis for political power. The empty promises of others in this House are the shallow and cynical politics of yesterday. We in Fianna Fáil will support every sensible, realistic and affordable proposal that will provide homes for all our citizens.

Today's demonstration clearly shows the public's concern with the housing crisis, but probably much more important, its concern with the lack of resources and of achievement in implementing the various programmes. We in the Oireachtas have known since the election of the Thirty-second Dáil that there has been a housing crisis. That is why the elected Members of this Dáil established an all-party committee to address the issue of housing and homelessness before the formation of the Government, which is a very unusual thing to have happened. That committee met over a two-month period and formulated a very comprehensive report. Many of the items that were in that report are reflected in the motion before the House, and in this regard I am very happy to support it. It was a collaborative report which found almost unanimous agreement from all the members, with one dissenting voice, and it is regrettable that with the passage of time the report was not developed and implemented in its entirety. Instead, we find ourselves where we are today.

The report was published on 17 June. The following month the Government launched its policy, Rebuilding Ireland. I acknowledge that many, though not all, of the actions in Rebuilding Ireland flowed from the committee's report. During the debate on Rebuilding Ireland, I said that while many of the recommendations from the committee's report were to be found in Rebuilding Ireland, it had the capacity, if implemented effectively, to have a significantly positive impact. As we enter the third year of Rebuilding Ireland, I regret to say it has not had the impact that was anticipated, and the question must be asked why. It is simply not good enough to say the plan is not working. We should be saying that the Government is failing to implement the plan in full in accordance with the timelines it set itself. The Minister and the Taoiseach frequently highlight some of the targets that have been achieved and, quite frankly, that is not good enough. Rebuilding Ireland was not a selective piecemeal document. Rather, it was a holistic approach aimed at all aspects of housing and homelessness. Every time the Minister is questioned here, he gives specific figures. It is not good enough. Every element of the housing market impacts on every other element, so if houses are bought from the private sector to put into social housing, it takes away from opportunities for first-time buyers. It is very important that there is openness and transparency in this regard.

I refer specifically to the very first action in Rebuilding Ireland. Action No. 1 was to address homelessness and to build 1,500 rapid-build houses. They were to have been completed by the end of 2018. As we approach the latter end of 2018, there are only a few hundred. Had these houses been built in accordance with the Government's own plans, we would not be saying today that there are nearly 10,000 people homeless. That figure would be significantly reduced.

While other areas in the plan have gone ahead, the fact is that the Minister is missing some of his own key targets. He introduced the repair and leasing scheme, which had great potential but is simply not delivering what he expected it to deliver. I do not blame him for introducing it. When something is not working, however, one must adapt with speed to amend it and try to make it work. It is all well and good for the Minister to say he is doing so. The scheme has been around-----

It changed six months ago and has worked very well since.

How many houses are in use today as a result of it? The point is that the urgency is not there.

I was amazed by the Minister today. He said 100 properties submitted by local authorities were eligible to be considered under the single-stage scheme but councils did not opt for that, opting instead for the normal four-stage scheme. He is dead right. They should have opted for it. Why did they not do so? It is because it is not fit for purpose. Why did it take the Minister until now to realise there were 100 projects in the scheme before he took action? It should have become obvious at a much earlier stage, and local authorities are not behind the curtain in saying why. There are problems with the scheme.

Deputy Gino Kenny mentioned a scheme in my area, and I want to refer to it briefly. I refer to the Kilcarberry development, where almost 1,000 units of accommodation are to be built, 70% private and 30% public. The Minister has said in this House a number of times that he wants a collaborative approach and is prepared to work with us to find solutions. He was specifically asked by my colleague, Deputy Ó Broin, who has gone missing now, to meet public representatives from the area with a view to seeing how we could advance an affordable housing project as part of that development. He refused the meeting. I am not saying it would have been successful but the meeting did not come about. We are very conscious that we cannot and will not hold up a development, but the point is that we asked for the meeting and it has not been-----

It is the councillors' decision and they are holding up the development, and the Deputy knows that. That is disingenuous. He knows-----

The Minister was asked for a meeting on the issue. We could have discussed the matter in a meaningful way instead of across the floor of this House.

The development will be put back by 18 months.

I hope that when this motion is passed, it is not just filed away. I genuinely hope we go back to where we were two and a half years ago and work collaboratively and across parties to address the issues of housing.

No one side has the answer to this. The original report had a lot to offer and we should work in that vein again.

I will be very brief in the time I have left. Perhaps I will receive some flexibility from the Ceann Comhairle. The common denominator in all of the contributions made here - I met with the Minister, his officials and the Minister of State, Deputy English, on numerous occasions with regard to bringing forward proposals to try to deal with the current housing crisis and the homeless issue - is lack of supply. We have heard that on numerous occasions. The problem is that the system that is there currently is too slow. Funding may be an issue, but so is the process. I know of Part 8 developments that were approved by local authorities seven months ago and which have not moved on to the next stage of construction. One would imagine that seven months after a Part 8 development has been approved one would see machinery on site and construction starting. It is not happening. Regarding private sector developments going through the system of An Bord Pleanála, I have checked with a number of individuals and it takes a minimum of 12 months, and more than likely 14, to get from the start of that process to completion.

How can we say that we are serious about delivering houses quickly knowing that these processes are really slow? We need to look at the processes and see how developments can be accelerated in a meaningful way under a proper sustainable planning mechanism in order to ensure delivery of houses. When local authorities buy a house from the private sector, or turn over a house which a council tenant has left, it takes ten or 12 months until they can put a tenant back into it. There are a lot of mechanisms there and a lot of problems in the process which are causing issues in respect of approval. Different forms of red tape are causing delays to the process thereby adding to the issue of homelessness. This is the major problem.

We spoke at length in the Dáil last week about very low-hanging fruit, such as the housing assistance payment, HAP, process, which could be immediately actioned in order to make processes better and more accessible so that people can move from homelessness and into properties. There are solutions. We have brought forward proposals and we need them to be actioned in a positive, practical and pragmatic way in order to deal with this issue. We are talking about it as if we are reinventing the wheel. We are not really. We need to look at the process and look at what is causing the delays and put solutions in place to deal with them.

I am sharing with four of my colleagues. The average price of a home in Wicklow is now €320,000, which is up 6.6% on last year. The average rent in Wicklow is now €1,335, which represents a rise of 11.9% in the last year and which means Wicklow has the second highest rents in the State. It has been seven years and the crisis is deepening, if the Minister is ready to listen. In Wicklow there are also 3,810 families lingering on the council housing waiting list, many for ten, 12 or many more years. Those figures, however, do not really reflect the real housing need within the constituency. Many cannot even get on the housing list. One young mum recently came into one of my clinics with her six year old son. They had been refused access to the housing list. They were told that they did not have a housing need and that there was ample space in the one bedroom available in the family home, which was already overcrowded. It was deemed suitable for her to share that room with her six year old until he reached puberty and that they could then reapply. That is totally unacceptable.

The homelessness figures for Wicklow also do not reflect reality. The July figures issued by the Department show that there are only 20 people homeless in the constituency. That figure does not include the many hundreds sofa-surfing and sharing with families and friends in overcrowded conditions. It simply means that Wicklow County Council has put 20 people into emergency accommodation. The reality is that Wicklow is not offering any emergency accommodation because it simply does not have it. The council is actually referring homeless women and children to the local women's refuge. This in turn is creating difficulties for, and putting pressure on, those providing domestic violence services in the area. We have no affordable homes, no private rented homes, no social housing and no emergency accommodation. It is time to get real. It is time to face the realities and, more importantly, it is time to act.

Some 190,000 people. This figure does not include what we call the silent homeless. These are couples who have reared their families and put them through college and who are paying a mortgage when all of a sudden the banks foreclose on that mortgage. The marriage breaks down and the family unit is broken up. To make it worse, social justice is battered, beaten and killed because the bank puts a barring order of 200 m on that home so the people affected cannot even visit their neighbours. These are the effects of the housing crisis. There is absolutely no future plan for our youth. I fear for my own kids. There is no plan for the future.

I spoke to the Minister about his rent pressure zones a number of months ago. He does not have a plan B. The legislation is certainly not working in my town of Midleton and in the surrounding areas. Rental prices are escalating and going absolutely out of control. The Minister mentioned a while ago that it falls on each Deputy in this House. That includes his own party's Deputies. I ask them to have a conscience and to think before tomorrow because these are human beings. The Minister mentioned bricks and mortar and prices but this is about families. I met a mother who has been bounced between seven different towns in the past three months. She is in emergency accommodation with her daughter. In the last week she has sometimes had to drive more than two hours to get her daughter to school. The Minister does not have empathy. Fianna Fáil is speaking out of both sides of its mouth tonight. It has been in here long enough propping up the Government with the confidence and supply agreement. Deputy O'Brien can wave his hand. Confidence and supply: there is no confidence. All Fianna Fáil is doing is propping the Government up.

Deputy Buckley should not get angry. We know what happens when he gets angry.

It is not holding the Government to account. That is absolutely shocking.

The Deputy should calm down.

Fianna Fáil has normalised this and is facilitating the Government. It has normalised homelessness and both sides of debt. It should be absolutely ashamed. Fianna Fáil should get its finger out.

Why did the Deputy vote against affordable housing in May?

I do not think the Minister believes there is a housing emergency in this State, because if he did he would take different actions. He seems to be oblivious to it. He does not get it fully because having young mothers with kids living in a single hotel room for years is a national scandal. Pensioners having no choice but to live in a car is equivalent to elder abuse. Not being able to cook or wash clothes in the bed and breakfast to which one has been sent to live is a disgrace. Having to sleep in tents along the Grand Canal in Dublin and elsewhere is desperation. Living in a dilapidated mobile home in the back garden of an already overcrowded two-bedroom house is appalling. Allowing greedy landlords, banks and vulture funds to profiteer in an emergency is treacherous as is the profiteering itself. Having no right to a home in a supposed republic is perverse. The Minister should take the first step and declare the national emergency.

Tá géarchéim againn. Nuair atá éigeandáil ann ba chóir go dtógfaí na cinntí chun an pobal a chosaint. Is gá é sin a dhéanamh anois. Ní fheicim an chéim sin tógtha go dtí seo. Níl na cinntí sin ann maidir le tithíocht ná maidir leo siúd atá gan dídean in aon chor. Tá beathaí i mbaol. Tá saolta páistí agus saolta aostach á scrios toisc nach bhfuil an Rialtas seo dáiríre faoi na céimeanna is gá a thógáil chun déileáil leis an ngéarchéim seo. If the Minister was serious at all he would declare the national emergency and take the steps required in a national emergency to ensure delivery of the solutions that are there, which have been put forward and which can be delivered on.

The housing crisis in this State is nothing short of disastrous. The fact that we had thousands of people protesting outside the gates here today is proof. Today, we have record numbers of children homeless in this State. We have record numbers of people in emergency accommodation. We have record numbers of people on housing waiting lists. In the past three years this Government has delivered zero affordable houses. The reality is that a new approach is needed to allow our young people, couples on modest incomes and single people to afford their own homes. This motion makes reference to older people. It is absolutely shocking that we are seeing many of our older citizens, people who worked hard all their lives, becoming homeless.

We need to see a significant increase in social and affordable housing. We need to protect renters. This is one of the cornerstones in tackling this crisis. The pressure is building on this issue across Dublin city and the State. The proper response to it is to build more houses, protect renters, return vacant homes back into use and we need to declare a housing and homeless emergency. We need to hold a referendum to enshrine the right to housing in our Constitution.

The protest outside the gates of Leinster House today is only the start of many.

Today, everyone could feel the palpable anger on the streets of Dublin at the Raise the Roof protest outside Leinster House. This anger is not just being heard on Kildare Street but on every street across the country. People from every walk of life came to express their anger and want action, as well as to let the Minister know that this crisis in housing and homelessness never was and never will be acceptable. It seems people power is the only way the Government will listen to the voice of reason and be forced to take action.

This march gives a voice to the 4,000 homeless children who the Minister is deaf to and who are calling out to the Government to end their plight. If the Minister will not listen to these children, then maybe he will listen to the thousands who stood outside the gates of Leinster House today. It also gives voice to the many who have died on our streets. Homeless figures have grown, week in, week out, with no end in sight, despite what the Government says.

The people have risen. There will be more marches and more protests. The Minister is wrong on housing and homelessness. He is wrong on his ideology, more so. The thousands who gathered today for the Raise the Roof protest know the Minister is wrong too. It is time he listened to the people and stopped defending the indefensible.

I call on Deputy Jan O'Sullivan who is sharing time with Deputies Brendan Ryan and Burton.

The Minister will lose this vote and the motion will be passed tomorrow. The Minister needs to take notice of it and act on it. We have seen many motions before which the Government has lost but we have seen no action on them. This one has to make a difference and the Minister has to take action.

Whatever about the 47 Members who signed the motion, as well as the Fianna Fáil Party which has now joined us, there were thousands on the streets today at a large rally. There were trade unions, which represent thousands of people around the country, campaign groups, housing agencies, Traveller representatives, the National Women's Council of Ireland, students' unions and concerned citizens who want a fundamental shift in policy to deal with the housing crisis.

The Minister must listen to that and make a difference for the thousands of homeless people, the tens of thousands who fear losing their homes and all of those low and middle income earners who see no prospect of a secure home to rent or to buy. They can wait while the Minister keeps telling us to trust him that he knows what he is doing and it will be all right. That is not good enough anymore. We need that fundamental shift in policy which we are asking for in this motion.

We have come together with a common voice on this motion and made specific proposals. The Minister challenged us, claiming we did not make specific proposals. There are specific proposals in this motion. On behalf of the Labour Party, I published the affordable housing for all strategy, a comprehensive document containing specific proposals on housing. We do not want to hear we are not bringing forward solutions: we are.

The Minister spoke about mixed tenure but he needs to recognise that social and affordable housing is mixed tenure. It is just that it is not making huge profits for private landowners.

The most important part of the motion is the need to shift policy from hoping the private sector will do most of the heavy lifting, because it will not, to publicly led action. That means committing sufficient money and public lands to build social and affordable homes now. It means protecting those whose homes are rented rather than the owners of those homes. These are the core demands in the motion.

Changing the Constitution to include a right to a home would alter the balance between the rights to property, already enshrined in the Constitution, and the right to the fulfilment of one of the most basic needs of any person or family, the right to have a secure roof over one's head. All of the actions called for in our motion make sense. The fundamental shift we want is for the Minister to look at the housing crisis from the point of view of those who need a home rather than those who own property. That is the policy shift we and the crisis are demanding.

The housing crisis is getting worse, more complex, more hopeless and more devastating for people facing homelessness and those already there. The sharp edge of the housing crisis is now being felt where the private rental market is driving prices outside of the reach of ordinary people. I have people in my constituency clinics who are receiving tenancy termination notices, many of which are invalid initially. They have to go back and forth between Threshold, their landlords and the council, all the while knowing there is little light at the end of the tunnel.

There are not enough housing units being built. All that is offered is housing assistance payment, HAP, but there is nothing to it. HAP is a method of simply affording a home in the private rental market. While it may provide a solution and is much better than rent supplement, we need one, two, three and four-bedroom housing units delivered. We need housing and apartment units for people with disabilities and older people. We need to activate our landbanks to deliver these new units and new communities.

We must forget the private market. Those involved in it will operate for their own ends as they always have. They sat and continue to sit on their own landbanks, parcelling them off in small chunks which only serves to increase house prices and profits for themselves. They never delivered enough. When they did, it was for the few and out of reach for most.

The Minister is diminishing the ability of local authorities to provide homes by leaning increasingly on approved housing bodies. These bodies should be there to supplement local authorities, not replace them, as the primary deliverer of social and affordable housing. In Fingal, the number of local authority schemes getting off the ground has stalled since 2016. The projects being delivered now were pushed through at the start of 2014. Now the strategy is HAP and approved housing bodies only when we need council housing urgently.

The Government has dodged repeatedly the production of an adequate supply of affordable housing for young people, many of them now in their late 20s and 30s for whom ever purchasing their own home on a mortgage is becoming an impossible dream. The Government seems to have accepted this. Instead, people are languishing in a rental trap which means they are paying rents which are rising constantly. In many cases in my own area, they have now gone over €1,500 per month - even up to €2,000 per month - for ordinary three-bedroom houses. Something is fundamentally broken in the housing market when rents are significantly higher than the cost of financing a mortgage on a monthly basis. For that alone, the Government should recognise that it is a broken market and an emergency.

Speculation and speculators in land are back in business with values going up by a factor of ten to 15 times. New houses typically are around the €400,000 mark on a 35-year mortgage. That is not sustainable. We have unserviced land and land for development all around Dublin. The Government commits too little too late for vital infrastructure to allow thousands of acres to be opened up and the land to be developed. Dereliction all over Dublin city centre tells its own story of the Government's lack of will and purpose.

Unless the Minister gets his act together sooner rather than later, he will be classified as helpless, hopeless and hapless, and as having, as so many members of this Government have, something of an air of entitlement. I wonder at times if he understands the incredible stress and strain on people who are now routinely caught in this grinder of a lack of housing, unfair rents and a lack of access to an affordable home or a social house.

The Minister scoffed some months ago when I said the Government is not training apprentices at anything like the rate the construction industry requires. Could he even learn some simple small lessons? Notwithstanding that the national average unemployment rate is around 5.5%, there are areas where it is about 18%. Young people would give their eye teeth for a decent apprenticeship but the Minister is sitting on his hands and doing little or nothing.

The next speaker is Deputy Catherine Connolly who is sharing with her colleagues.

I have two minutes to contribute, therefore, I will be blunt and to the point. I listened this morning as the Taoiseach responded to Leaders' Question and his replies were pathetic, insulting and irresponsible - pathetic and insulting, I can live with, but irresponsible, I can not. When he traded insults across the floor and accused us of being ideologically bound by certain things, he was telling untruths. The only ideology in this Chamber is the Government and its supporters who say the market will provide.

The Government is dealing with housing like a Lego set; it builds one thing one day, another thing the next day, and something else the next day, and the only common theme is that it does everything to support the market. This Government and the previous one - the Labour Party will have to take note of its part in this criticism - were instrumental in changing housing policy through the housing assistance payment, HAP, scheme. Under it, €300 million this year - which was doubled from last year and is likely to be doubled next year - is going into the landlords' pockets with absolutely no security of tenure, minimum inspection and so on, and we were told that was the only game in town.

If the Minister does not want to listen to us, perhaps he might read a letter from more than 50 academics, researchers and experts in this area that appeared in an edition of The Irish Times last week. They told us, "the current crisis is the manifestation of deep structural problems in housing policy and the philosophy that underpins it". They stated that a radical change is needed. I do not have the time to read it all. They go on to illustrate the effects of that and they talk about a new policy. That is what we are asking for here, a new policy. Public housing must be built on public land. The State must have a fundamental role in that policy, otherwise we will keep going from crisis to crisis. More than a year ago, Deputy Healy asked for a declaration of an emergency; finally, we are getting it today. I ask the Minister to have a little humility, to do a little less talking and to listen to what is being said, if not by us, by the more than 10,000 who were outside these Houses today and by the various people who put their names to that letter last week.

I will finish on this point. I am from Galway. People have been on the housing waiting list since 2002 and there is no chance of them getting a house because only one house has been built there since 2009.

Obviously I support the motion because I have signed my name to it. The members of Government, and in particular the Fine Gael members, should be forewarned. Their refusal to change and to implement the policies in this Bill, which the dogs in the street know provide the solution to the housing and homeless crisis, will no longer be tolerated. There was a fantastic turnout of young people in the demonstration outside the Dáil today. The demonstration was attended by more than 10,000 and possibly up to 12,000 people. While out at the protest, it struck me that the 10,000 people who were on the street equate to the number of people who are homeless. When I saw that number of people it had a visual impact in terms of the number of people who are living in hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation and hubs.

A new generation is moving into action and they will not accept the future the Minister is holding out for them, a future with limited rights, precarious work and precarious, unaffordable housing. They will not accept the dog-eat-dog world of neoliberal capitalism. These young people have already shown their ability to organise and achieve change. They were a key component of the campaign to achieve marriage equality and the right of women to control their bodies. They are now mobilising on another key issue facing our society.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions called this demonstration today. It was the first time in a long time I have heard people say that more action needs to be taken, leading up to strike action. If this Government does not build public housing on public lands and deal with the issues, that is what we will be facing in the near future.

The lack of honesty in the Government's approach and its failure to acknowledge the fact they have failed miserably to deal with the housing crisis is shocking. I heard Audrey Carville pin down the Minister to eventually putting a figure on the number of newly built local authority social housing in 2018 and he put it at 4,000. I advice him that the chances of that happening are less than zilch. I do not understand why those in government cannot tell the truth about what is happening. It is a bit like saying the US military can use Shannon Airport to bomb the living daylights out of wherever they like while we are still a neutral country.

The Land Development Agency is a joke. I do not know what the Minister knows about the industry but he is not showing a great knowledge of it at present. The Government talks about using the expertise of the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, in this regard. These are the NAMA boys who sold units in Cherrywood for €27,000, which are now being sold for €120,000. Also, NAMA allowed investors' directors with loans of €352 million to sell them for €26 million to a shell fund they had set up in Luxembourg and it gave them €25 million recently to build in Dublin. Give it to someone else. Those in government are unbelievable.

In 2015 I begged the then Fine Gael-Labour Party Government not to let NAMA sell Project Arrow to Cerberus; those were all residential properties in the Republic of Ireland and now the Government is buying back some of them. I am sure Cerberus will give them to the Government for the same price; it is a bloody joke.

In my area of Fingal alone, there are more than 17,000 ha of residential land available that could potentially build just short of 50,000 residential units. The Minister's Government has the absolute neck to criticise the work of local authorities and to try to spread a lie that the market will deliver, that they just need time. Fine Gael has had time. It had seven years, along with its friends in the Labour Party who pursued the same policies when they were in government, and it has not delivered because it has failed to address public housing and should not rely on the market to build.

Every one of us in this House knows the devastation that is impacting on families who on a daily basis come to us, and we have to say there is nothing we can do for them. They are being told that everywhere they go. The first-time buyer's age has risen to 34. Rents have gone up by more than 80%. We have the highest rents in Europe; they are twice the cost of rent of Berlin. The Government talks about attracting people into jobs in this State.

The days of the rack-renting, slump-owning landlords are well back. Tenements are back in this town, and they are defining a generation. The solution years ago was to clear them out, to get rid of the private rack-renting slump-owning landlord and build public housing. That, too, is the message of today. That is what people were asking for today. It is not about social housing for people who do not have money. Everybody needs to live in a decent house with a roof over their head that does not soak up 50% to 60% of their income.

The next speaker is Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick who is sharing with Deputies Michael and Danny Healy-Rae.

The Deputy is very welcome to our crowd.

In terms of housing supply, Louth County Council has had success in the use of compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, for recovering vacant and derelict properties. This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the properties acquired by the council are in the hands of the banks and vulture funds. Nationally, about 1,000 properties are being sold to banks and the Housing Agency for distribution to councils and approved housing bodies. I am satisfied that many thousands of these units are not being made available by the banks. Banks are waiting for values to go up. The Government should target these units. They are already built and could be made available within a short time.

The Government must allow local authorities to build on their land banks by providing the approvals for same and covering the land purchase costs which the councils are carrying. Most of these sites are good ones that could be developed very quickly and by refunding the councils the land cost, the Government could stabilise the councils' financial status. Is the Minister aware that Louth County Council is boarding up a vacant property because it cannot afford to carry out the necessary work before it relets the property?

That is serious.

I will now address the issue of homelessness. The Government needs to declare more rent pressure zones. These zones are working in the areas where they have been designated. A new rent pressure zone must be declared as soon as possible in Dundalk. Rents are increasing at a faster rate than house prices in the area. A large number of properties owned by landlords are being repossessed. The banks appear to have targeted these properties and many tenancies are being ceased because banks are insisting on vacant possession. In this time of crisis, we must introduce legislation that removes the vacant possession requirement and allows the recovery and disposal of the property with the tenant unaffected, as happens in commercial property transactions.

More work also needs to be done in providing assistance to those households which struggle to maintain a tenancy, whether through addiction, mental health issues, disability, behavioural issues or child support issues. The relevant sections of the Health Service Executive and Tusla must assist councils with these cases with a view to ensuring that tenancies are sustained and not lost.

This morning, the Taoiseach asked for solutions.

The Deputy is after overrunning. The Chair should reset the time for us now.

I have offered the Minister solutions to increase housing supply and address homelessness. I ask that he listens.

Someone should buy Deputy Fitzpatrick a new clock.

Deputy Healy-Rae is good at running the old clock himself.

I must declare an interest before I make my contribution. I thank the Deputies who instigated this debate and all those who organised the protest today. I welcome anything that will make the Government wake up to the problem that we have. I am sick of reports and studies and everybody talking about the problem. The issue is simple. I may take a slightly different approach to other Deputies who made contributions. I will not jump up and down and point a finger at the Minister or anyone else or say this is all his fault. That is not the way to deal with a problem. There are many practical, sensible solutions and all sides of the House know what they are. I fail to understand why the Minister at the Cabinet table or the officials in the Department do not have a more practical, workperson-like way of dealing with this problem. I am not being simplistic about it. It happens to be a topic I know a lot about. Earlier today, I heard a Member state that certain categories of people should not be allowed to contribute to the debate or talk about the problem.

I said they should not vote.

I am sorry but I believe that is wrong. I am as much entitled to vote as anybody else. I make no apology to anybody if I have very good knowledge of this problem because of the work I do.

The issue is not the work but the conflict of interest.

It is not a conflict of interest. That is why I always declare my interest. The Ceann Comhairle knows that I always say if I have an interest in something and I am always very straight about it. There are solutions to this problem. I would like to see the Government do more, work on this issue and listen to Deputies from all sides when they are making suggestions. This is an enormous problem and unless there is real Government action, it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak on this motion. While we are all aware of our current housing crisis, what is being done to relieve this ongoing problem? We spend so much of our time in the Dáil discussing housing, but I have had enough discussions on this matter. It is time now for the Government to deliver on its promises and stop believing the illusion that it is dealing with this crisis. We want real action taken now. Consider, for example, the Rebuilding Ireland scheme launched earlier this year. It seemed great on paper and certainly made the Government look like it was finally taking action. However, it was just another smokescreen behind which the Government could hide. The Rebuilding Ireland home loan could have made some difference to the housing crisis and helped get people on the property ladder. Instead it was launched without adequate resources on the ground to deal with the numbers of applicants. Figures in recent reports indicate that 50% of applicants are being rejected. This is outrageous.

I am blue in the face from standing up in the House to ask the Government to deliver on promises it made in the programme for Government. The Government promised rural proofing during the talks for Government. Rural proofing is a commitment by the Government to review and examine all public policy to ensure it does not disadvantage rural areas. During the talks on forming a Government a rural resettlement scheme was discussed. Depopulation is a worrying trend in rural communities. Communities do not stand still. They either develop or decline as the housing crisis in our towns and cities worsens. There has never been a better time to actively promote the concept of rural resettlement.

I will cut my speech short to give other Deputies a chance to speak on the motion.

My brother declared an interest. I do not know what he has or does not have but I must also declare an interest. He does not tell me anyway. The Minister and the Government have said all along that money was not the problem in the building of houses, but it must be a problem. In Kerry, we are limited to building two rural cottages a year from 2016 to 2021. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is not enough for us and there is, therefore, something wrong in terms of money.

There was much talk this morning between the leader of Fianna Fáil and the Minister on the stages of approval required by the Department. As I understand it, a single stage approval can only be given if the project does not cost more than €2 million. Is the Minister listening to me? A single stage approval is possible only if the project does not cost more than €2 million. That would amount to eight houses in Kerry, but it may only build four houses in Dublin, I do not know. Single stage approval, however, does not comply with the Department of Finance guidelines on value for money. The Minister is aware of this and if he is asked the question properly, he must tell the questioner this.

In every other instance there are four stages of planning approval. We highlighted this to the previous Minister but he obviously did not listen. This is why time has been lost. In Kerry, if a development exceeds eight houses, it needs four stages of planning approval. In Dublin, that may apply to developments of only two or three houses. The Minister must review what is happening in the Department in this regard. It is very wrong of the Minister or anybody else to blame the local authorities. There were murmurs here this morning blaming the local authorities. They are not to blame. The Department is to blame for the delay with the stages of planning approval and that is where the delays must be tackled. The Minister is in charge of the Department and he must bring it to task and bring it around because that is where the delay is.

I am sharing my time with Deputies Shortall and Healy.

When people are being made homeless faster than the Government can get them out of homelessness, something is not working. When more than 50 households enter into rental distress every day and need to avail of the housing assistant payment, HAP, something is not working. When Fine Gael has been in government for more than seven years and the housing crisis has only grown worse and worse, something is not working. The Government's solutions to the crisis are not working. That is why many political parties, as well as trade unions, students, community activists and housing and homelessness organisations, were united at the Raise the Roof demonstration outside Leinster House today to demand the real action that is needed on housing and the homeless crisis.

In July of this year, there were 9,891 people who were homeless and in emergency accommodation, almost 4,000 of whom were children. The number of homeless families has increased by 18% since the summer of 2017. Rent in Dublin is at an all-time high and many renters are living in insecure tenancies. House prices are entirely unaffordable for most people. In Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown the median house price is more than €500,000. This is unaffordable for young and older people in my constituency. Frankly, it is unaffordable for most people in my constituency, full stop.

Why does the Government continue to accuse all Members of the Opposition of not putting forward solutions when clearly we all have done so? The Green Party in the Dáil and Seanad has put forward proposals for measures to invest in large-scale cost-rental public housing; create an independent building regulator; increase and strengthen the vacant and derelict sites levy; and to expand the security of tenure for renters. Sinn Féin has put forward solutions, as has Solidarity-People Before Profit. The Labour Party, the Social Democrats, Fianna Fáil, Independents 4 Change and many other Independents have come forward with solutions but the Government does not listen.

The Government needs to make a truly substantial investment in cost-rental public housing, as proposed and supported by all parties that have tabled this motion. Let us build public housing to scale, open to people of all incomes and social backgrounds, creating sustainable, diverse communities, as in Vienna and many other European cities. In my constituency of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown there are several sites that would be perfect locations for the cost-rental model.

I and community organisations such as Dundrum Housing Action have called on the Government to ensure that State lands are used for public housing, including all of the Central Mental Hospital land in Dundrum, the sites between the Central Bank buildings in Sandyford, the NAMA site in Sandyford industrial estate and the site beside Leopardstown racecourse, to create a diverse community of people of all incomes in affordable State rental homes. Dundrum, Dublin and Ireland need this model.

I plead with the Minister to listen to the experts, those who work every day on housing and homelessness and the people of Ireland who gathered outside Leinster House today. The Government must build public housing on public land and build stronger and more secure communities.

The Minister denied that his ideological outlook on life or politics was a factor in his failure, and that of the Government, to address the housing crisis. I do not accept that. There are many solutions and they are, in many ways, self-evident. They have been proposed by all parties in the House, housing experts and non-governmental organisations. However, they have not been adopted by Government. The only conclusion that one can draw is that the Minister is ideologically opposed to tackling the housing problem in a sustainable and fair manner.

At the heart of this issue is an overdependence on the market. That was evident from the start of the previous Government when it proposed the housing assistance payment, HAP, scheme and moved away from the principle of providing public housing to a dependence on the market. We are now in a position in which we have fuelled the demand for limited private housing to the point where rents are going through the roof and it is impossible for people to get their feet on the housing ladder. The State is not getting any value for money and there has been a complete failure to address unsustainable dependence on the market.

Many people have spoken about supply, which is important. The HAP did nothing to increase supply.

The other key issue is affordability. This has not been recognised by Government. At no point has this Government or its predecessor set out to make housing affordable and that means driving down the cost of housing. On the contrary, they did the reverse by fuelling the cost of housing. Introducing the help-to-buy scheme some years ago, the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, referred in his budget speech to the need to increase the price of housing. Will the Minister clarify what is the objective of Government? Is it to increase the price of housing to help the banks' balance sheets? The Government seems more concerned about that than about helping families put a roof over their heads. This is at the heart of the problem before us. If the Minister were serious about ensuring affordability, he would tackle the problem of land hoarding because the normal rules of supply and demand do not apply to housing. The home building industry will not solve the problem. Government must do that by taking brave decisions to stamp out land hoarding and build on publicly owned land. The Minister seems to be doing nothing at the rate required.

There is a huge housing and homelessness crisis that is devastating families and damaging children. The 10,000 protestors at the Raise the Roof demonstration outside the Dáil today are an indication of the depth of that crisis. The protest is the start of a national campaign, including work stoppages, demanding the building of social and affordable houses on public lands. The protest was supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and its affiliates, the Union of Students in Ireland, the National Women's Council of Ireland, housing NGOs and political parties in opposition.

It is blindingly obvious that the private market has utterly failed. It is also blindingly obvious that seven years of Fine Gael, Labour Party and Independent Alliance housing policies have also failed and are further damaging children and families. The time for talking is well and truly over and the 10,000 homeless people and 100,000 families on local authority housing lists are demanding action now. The key action identified in the motion is the declaration by the Oireachtas of a housing and homelessness emergency. That means the Oireachtas must pass legislation declaring such an emergency. It must curtail the rights of private property. This is not new or unique. It was done by the previous Government of Fine Gael and the Labour Party when it introduced emergency regulations, including the financial emergency measures in the public interest or FEMPI legislation, which interfered with the private property of pensioners.

What will a declaration of an emergency do to address this crisis? It will allow the Government to stop all evictions by banks, building societies, vulture funds and landlords. Evictions into homelessness are driving the homelessness crisis. It will allow the Government to reduce and freeze rents and fast-track the compulsory purchase of vacant properties. It will also allow it to commence an emergency, large-scale, public, local authority social and affordable house building programme. Public housing on public land is what is needed. The Minister must do it and do it now.

Dáil Éireann is stuffed full of landlords. The Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil benches groan with them. This Government of landlords can deal with the crisis seriously or it can continue to choose not to deal with it. If it continues until the next general election to do what it is doing to the people on housing, it should expect many more people on the streets protesting and far fewer Government Deputies in the House after the election.

A recent Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, survey found that one in two young workers has had to borrow or sacrifice another basic need such as food, heating or transportation to pay their rent or mortgage in the past year. The classic Lou Reed album, "New York", includes the track "Dirty Boulevard" which contains the following lyrics:

This room costs $2,000 a month. You can believe it, man, it is true. Somewhere a landlord is laughing until he wets his pants.

Those landlords are not just in New York anymore. They are in Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway. They are making bloody fortunes off the backs of those young workers.

I-RES REIT is a landlord that typifies what is going on. It controls 2,608 rented properties. I-RES REIT did not exist before 2013 but it is now Ireland's largest residential property landlord. Fine Gael and the Labour Party legislated to allow real estate investment trusts to operate in Ireland. I-RES REIT set up here and started by buying more than 1,200 apartments on ten sites in 2013 and 2014. Since then, it has ramped up the average rent at every site by between 23% and 40%. In September 2013, for example, it bought 224 apartments at Lansdowne Gate in Drimnagh. Since 2014, it has increased the average rent on these apartments by 40%. At the same time, it bought 102 apartments at Priorsgate in Tallaght. It has increased the rent on the apartments by 31%. Does the Minister know by how much average pay has increased in the same period? It has increased by 7%. Every single penny of that meagre pay increase, and much more besides, is gone paying rent to I-RES REIT.

If rent gouging was not enough, I-RES REIT has also benefited from a colossal increase in the value of the homes it has bought. It paid €308 million for 1,200 apartments in 2013 and 2014. According to its accounts, it now values those apartments at €410 million, an increase of one third. That is a capital gain of more than €100 million, on top of rent gouging. This is colossal profiteering from the housing crisis.

It gets worse. When he was Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan introduced an exemption from capital gains tax on properties purchased in 2013 and 2014. The €30 million or more in capital gains tax that would normally arise when I-RES REIT sells these apartments will be lost to the public finances. That €30 million would build nearly 200 new homes.

Nothing would do the Government but to bring in the likes of I-RES REIT. It stated it would create demand and stimulate an increase in supply that would solve the housing crisis.

The housing crisis is escalating. Everywhere we look, we see that the Minister has created a property market that has become a State-sponsored process for the extraction of public moneys and workers' incomes, to be routed to the corporate owners of rental properties. Making housing a product of the marketplace is the Minister's ideology and its failure and that of the Minister are total. A reason we back the motion is the call for rent controls, but linking rents with the consumer price index would not go far enough. Rents are already too high. Real rent controls would mean cutting rents by a significant amount. To achieve this, we need a protest movement which will grow and grow and challenge the power of landlords and the landlords' Government.

The Minister has told the House that he has no ideological position on housing. That is the best capitalist ideology of all. It is an ideology that presents itself as simply being common sense, pragmatic and what is natural and implies that we are the ones with an ideology, which is not true. The Government has an ideological bias against public and social housing. That is clear from what the Minister and the Taoiseach say, but, above all, it is clear from the facts. Last year the Minister built, on the most positive estimate, fewer than 800 local authority homes, less than 10% of the number that would have been built in the late 1980s. There is an ideological bias which flows from the Minister's general capitalist ideology that sees housing as a commodity which is to be delivered by the free market. That ideology which the Minister does not acknowledge coincides happily with the interests of those he represents. It coincides with the interests of landlords who are now experiencing the highest profits in the entire European Union, as well as with the interests of developers. That is how ideology works, even if one chooses not to acknowledge it.

It is because of that ideology that the Minister says we have no alternative because we do not put forward an alternative that sticks to the rules of that ideology. We have alternatives, with the minority report on housing we produced, numerous local plans, for example, a plan for Kilcarbery which could be supported on Monday in South Dublin County Council and which could, instead of 70% of public land being privatised, see it being used for a 60% social and 40% affordable housing scheme. The Minister does not recognise that alternative because it starts from an entirely different logic. It starts from the need of people to have a decent quality of life, which means a right to quality and affordable homes for all people. Addressing these needs means breaking from the Minister's ideology and the rules of the capitalist market. It means socialist policies whereby people's needs and their right to a home would come before the right to make a profit of landlords, developers and the banks. It means that the motion is only the starting point in terms of what is needed. It means a ban on economic evictions to stop the tidal wave of people being forced out of their homes. It means effective rent controls, backdated to 2011 and linked with the consumer price index. Crucially, it means massive investment by the State to build public and social affordable homes, at a rate of 20,000 a year over five years, to reach a figure of 100,000, which would include Traveller and student accommodation. The Minister will not do it.

The Minister has said we are not protestors but lawmakers. He can speak for himself. I was protesting today, like all other Solidarity-People Before Profit Deputies and many others. They were right to do so. We are arguing in favour of the motion inside the Dáil, but we were right to join the protest. Anybody who wants to see an end to the crisis and the nightmare for so many in this country should be out protesting. If people did not protest, the Government would do nothing. Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." If people had not protested and distributed abortion pills, would we still have the eighth amendment in the Constitution? Would there be access at 12 weeks? If people had not protested and refused to pay water charges, would we still have them? I think we would. We have to protest to force change because it goes against the economic interests reflected in the ideology the Minister put forward, that of landlords and developers. Today's demonstration was very significant. It was the biggest mid-week protest on any issue for many years. It has to be the starting point of a mass movement to force change. It means that the occupation of vacant homes should spread and that a date should be set for a national demonstration on a Saturday which would the force the trade union movement to put its full weight behind it, combined with different housing campaigns, campaigners and others across the country, to ensure we bring tens of thousands onto the streets on the next occasion and put the Government and its policies in peril.

I am not a landlord and believe it is important that I declare I am not. While I was not present at the protest, I was dealing with an issue in my local authority, where there is a pinch point on a site. I was teasing through it to find a solution. That is what I deem to be the most appropriate use of my time, finding answers to real problems, rather than just saying we will do something and not do it. While it is welcome that other Members are putting forward suggestions, including some financial solutions, I do not see any physical policy for how they will physically put bricks and mortars on any site. If it was as easy as they are making it out to be, it would have been done a long time ago. While we all recognise the very difficult circumstances in which individuals and families find themselves, we have to support them with a range of measures while getting supply back on track. I hear Deputies state the money we spend in providing emergency accommodation should be spent in building houses. While I fundamentally do not disagree, I never hear how they will house the vulnerable people in question in the interim while the houses are being built.

I sat here for two hours and not once did I interrupt anybody. Those families and individuals are in very vulnerable circumstances which can be complex and varied and require tailored solutions. Broad statements will not solve these cases. I would rather give people hope based on solid foundations than make false promises. I would rather talk about the difficulties we are trying to tackle in an honest way than mislead and tell people not to transfer from the rental accommodation scheme to the housing assistance payment, not to accept emergency accommodation or accommodation in a family hub and to hold out in a hotel room until a home is delivered. That is both disingenuous and misleading.

Who is doing that?

As the parent of two small children, I find it really disingenuous. I would prefer if people engaged with the agencies which have the expertise and are in a position to give the best advice on the facilities that are available. One cannot build a house without architectural and engineering drawings and one cannot throw extra money at something without saying how one will implement it. It is easy to throw extra money at something when it is somebody else's money. This is taxpayers' money that we have a duty to spend in a transparent manner. It is not as simple as throwing a box of Lego on a site and having houses appear. Housing developments need the provision of roads, water, public transport, schools, shops and other services. We are trying to build communities, not isolated islands or the ghost estates of the past. Something is clearly working if, in March this year, planning permission had been granted for 25,000 homes. Clearly, some policies are working.

Sinn Féin is calling for the abolition of local property tax in the next couple of years, yet it wants to put a tax on anybody with a second home. Many of the people with second homes are accidental landlords. All Sinn Féin is doing is moving figures around on a page, being disingenuous and preying on vulnerability.

Rebuilding Ireland is working and we are seeing progress, albeit not at the pace we all want. We are two years into a five-year programme across all five pillars which have to work together. We are turning a corner. We must bear in mind that tweaks are needed in the rental sector and other areas. We never said Rebuilding Ireland was perfect, but it is a strong policy platform that is having and will have the required outcome.

The motion makes reference to the affordability of housing. We are starting to see movement in that regard. We make no apologies for focusing first on the most vulnerable in society. Local authorities have circulars from the Department, but they do not need a circular to deliver affordable housing schemes. I wish to correct the record about what was said about my area in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. It was not Fianna Fáil councillors who came forward with the scheme for the Shankill site. It was Councillor John Bailey, Councillor Michael Merrigan and Councillor Shane O'Brien of Sinn Féin who brought forward the proposal. Many other local authorities are bringing forward tangible solutions to the shortage of housing. We need to get this right in order that we do not repeat the mistakes with which my generation had to deal. We still bear the scars. I remember queuing overnight at marketing suites to put down a cheque in schemes that had not yet been built. The following week prices went up by between €10,000 and €30,000. I still remember those days and want to make damn sure they do not happen again.

Prices are rocketing.

I did not interrupt anybody else. I show Members respect in this Chamber.

Please, Deputies.

Does Deputy Maria Bailey expect us to sit here like absolute dummies? This is a serious issue.

Members should show respect for other colleagues in this Chamber.

The Minister could have answered some of the questions we had posed instead of ignoring them.

We made our contributions.

Constant harping and interrupting is unhelpful.

I am eating into the time of the Minister of State, Deputy Damien English. With your forbearance, a Cheann Comhairle, may I have 30 seconds to finish my contribution?

If Members of this House were to bring forward proposals to speed up the delivery of housing based on evidence, I would very much welcome them. Top lines will not solve one problem in the provision of housing; one has to solve the problem in its totality. I do not need to shout to prove my sincerity. I prove it with action, not amateur dramatics. I do not prove it with threats and accusations. I heard phrases such as "at your peril" and "Which side are you on?" What is happening is that people are trying to divide communities and society. I am not prepared to let that happen.

Society is divided into classes.

I will respond to a few of the points raised. It continues to be said we are opposed to social housing.

Then the Government should build them.

Opposition Members cannot keep saying that because the facts do not back it up. They might not like the facts, but the Government has put a structured plan in place and taxpayers' money behind it of €6 billion to build houses. The plan is delivering. It is delivering more houses than any other speaker can provide in his or her plans.

No, it is not. Is it delivering 20,000 houses a year?

Please do not keep telling me that we lack the desire, ambition or nature to do it. We are fully committed to doing so. We all accept that it cannot happen quick enough to solve the problem. We genuinely wish it could. Who would not? Nobody wants people to have to live in hotels, family hubs or anywhere else of that nature. They are not places in which to raise a family. We are committed to doing it, but first we have to make it happen. Our short-term plan is to deliver 50,000 houses in the next couple of years and then 110,000 social houses in the next ten years. That is not included in anybody else's plan. Tonight there was talk of delivering 20,000 houses.

In the next five years.

Sinn Féin's plan is to provide 100,000 houses. That is the plan for tonight.

That was our plan two years ago.

We have been consistent in our message in recent years. What is more important is that the plan is delivering because it has been thought out and worked out site by site. There are more than 1,000 projects in the pipeline which aim to deliver more than 16,000 houses. We want to double that number and add more to it. Houses are being built. Deputy Maria Bailey is correct. We are not against anybody's ideas. We have repeatedly asked Members to bring to our attention any new concept for delivery or quicker ways to deliver houses. In a debate in July I asked for solutions to deliver houses more quickly and most of the Members present were present for that debate. It is now October and I did not receive any proposal for how to deliver a house more quickly on site.

We gave the Minister of State four plans.

There was ambition, talk, plans and everything else but no concrete ideas on how we could provide housing more quickly. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae is conveniently no longer in the Chamber. I am talking about physically building a house quicker.

Let me finish the point. He spoke about solutions. I thought he was going to give a list of ideas, but he sat down without providing any solution and then went out through the door. In fairness to Deputy Michael Collins, he referred to the rural resettlement scheme, with which we totally agree. There has been some movement in that regard and we want to see more. It is a good solution. It does not provide new houses but uses existing houses, something we all want to do. I have not heard many ideas for how we can physically provide more houses faster.

More than 7,000 adults who were homeless in the past 18 months are no longer homeless. We do not deny that there are still close to 10,000 people homeless.

Some people who did have homes are now homeless.

The Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, publishes the figures every day of the week. It is very important that those who are homeless understand an effort is being made to make things better. There is an effort to improve the position for those who are homeless but also to find a permanent solution. We are doing so. A total of 7,060 adults who were homeless are not homeless today. Members should not keep saying we are doing nothing because it is not true.

Ten thousand people are on the homeless list.

Neither the Minister nor I have any problem in saying it is not enough because we know it ourselves and will keep doing more, but it is wrong to say we are doing nothing. It is not true and not honest.

I repeatedly heard Members who support the motion say the Government had to start a social housing plan, as if there was no plan. I have sat across the table from some of them and asked if they are aware of Rebuilding Ireland and that there is €6 billion available for that plan. Everyone in the House supported it. I accept that some wanted more, with which I have no problem, but everybody said 50,000 houses was the minimum number we should provide. That plan is in motion and delivering houses. Most stakeholders agreed two years ago when the process started that in some cases we would have to rely on the private sector in the short term, as we restarted the process of building social houses. Any sane person would accept this.

There is no choice while we are waiting for social housing to be built. People have to live somewhere. There is a reliance on the HAP and other schemes. We accept that it involves the private sector, but many in the private sector are helping us to provide housing solutions. It is accepted that in the short term we will have to do so, while we increase the social housing stock. There is no other way of doing it. People cannot be left without a house.

I hear every day of the week that the HAP scheme is not working. We all accept that in some cases it has not worked out ideally for everybody, but 40,000 people are using the scheme which was introduced by the previous Government as an improvement on the rent assistance scheme because it allowed people to go back to work. I remember having meetings with Deputy Joan Burton when she was Minister when the scheme was being devised. It is a good scheme which works well for thousands, although I accept that it has not worked well for others.

There is no security for tenants and the scheme is a bonanza for landlords.

There is also an issue with perception. Some refuse to avail of the HAP scheme. I argue that one is much better off on a journey to a permanent house, be it social, private or affordable, or being in a house with the help of the HAP scheme, rather than living in emergency accommodation.

It costs twice as much as building a house.

The Minister of State's time is up.

I will defend the scheme to the hilt. It is not about ideology. We are committed to the provision of social housing, but we are also committed to the provision of affordable and private housing. As a Government, we have a role to play in increasing the supply of housing in general.

The Minister of State is way over time.

Rebuilding Ireland and Project 2040 put in place a sustainable housing construction sector again that was not in place five, seven or ten years ago because nobody was building houses. There was no money available. Now we are heading back to having a sustainable housing construction sector.

The Minister of State's point has been made.

Our job is to deliver houses across the system and we will continue to do so.

The final time slot will be shared between Deputies Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Imelda Munster, Bríd Smith and Richard Boyd Barrett. I will leave the allocation of time up to the Deputies to decide.

The Minister said we were not protestors but lawmakers. However, there are many ways to protest. Shakespeare famously said in the play "Hamlet", "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." She was not outside the castle with a placard, rather she was talking too much because she knew that she was guilty and her only way of covering up her guilt was by trying to talk her way out of it, which is what I see the Government doing constantly on the issue of housing.

I congratulate the National Housing and Homeless Coalition that pulled together today's demonstration and organised us to debate this motion. It will not be the last we will see of that protest. There will be many more to come.

When the Minister says he is a lawmaker, not a protestor, he must ask himself if the laws are working. Unless he is going to lie to us, he must clearly admit that the housing laws are not working because the evidence shows that the problem is increasing on a daily basis. It is not just about those who are homeless and living in homeless accommodation. How many of us are dealing with families with three and four children who are living on top of their parents for up to 16 years and cannot get access to a house? We know, as does the Minister, that there is a tiny cabal of very wealthy organisations and individuals who are profiting from the misery overcrowding and homelessness present in this country.

We must challenge that sort of profiteering. Protesting is one way to challenge it.

The conflict of interest for Members who are landlords may be a sore point for some, as acknowledged by Deputies Bailey and Michael Healy-Rae. Unless such Members vote in favour of the motion, that conflict of interest becomes clear because the motion challenges their right to the housing market and to be subsidised by the State to the outrageous total of €7 billion in the past 14 years. The motion will help to challenge such practices. In voting against the motion, members who are landlords will compromise themselves and the notion of democracy.

I have listened to the recent statements of Fine Gael Deputies and Ministers on this issue. In typical Fine Gael manner, three common themes emerged. One could call it a three-point plan. The first is that Sinn Féin councillors are objecting willy-nilly to local authority houses. That is absolutely untrue, as Fine Gael Deputies know. For all the criticisms they or local authority managers throughout the country may have of Sinn Féin, they know that our councillors are a thorn in their side and are seeking more social housing. The second theme is that Sinn Féin has no alternatives. That is consistently repeated by members of Fine Gael but it is also untrue. We have published eight policy documents and put forward eight Bills and dozens of motions, many of them detailed, along with fully costed budget proposals to provide solutions. Members of the Government know that charge is untrue but they keep repeating it anyway. The third theme is that no party has moral authority or monopoly on the issue, which is true. Having listened to the contributions of some on the Government benches, however, I am unsure that all of its members believe it. Some of the speeches by those on the Fine Gael benches indicate that there is a belief that the moral and intellectual authority is on that side of the House.

It is true that Fine Gael inherited an emerging housing crisis for which Fianna Fáil should not get off lightly. That said, while Fine Gael stated that the crisis cannot be tackled overnight, it has now been in government for seven years. Not enough social housing has been built and not enough has been done on affordable housing or to protect those in private rented accommodation. The Minister survived the motion of confidence. A housing rally took place outside the Houses today. He needs to listen and to change course.

We are facing another winter with a housing crisis. In spite of Fine Gael having had seven and a half years in government to deal with this issue, the housing crisis has escalated each year under its watch. It is the worst it has ever been but the Government cannot accept that Rebuilding Ireland has been a dismal failure. Its determined resistance due to its ideological block has forced thousands of people into homelessness. The Minister is opposed to the roll-out of a State-funded countrywide social and affordable house building programme because he is a right-wing Tory. It is as simple as that. His denial of a housing emergency is shameful. He daily defends the indefensible in spite of knowing the misery caused by this crisis. When he is defending the indefensible, does he ever think of those who are forced to sleep in doorways, cold, wet, miserable and frightened? Does he ever take a moment to think of those forced to sleep in alleyways or along river banks? Does he ever think about the people who are too scared to tell their landlord that their heating has broken in case they are evicted and become homeless? Does he ever spare a thought for the thousands of working families who cannot afford to buy a home because, as a result of Government policies, there are no affordable homes?

As the Minister is aware, the solution has been staring him in the face for years. We need a countrywide State-funded social and affordable house building programme. If the Minister refuses to act on that, it will come back to haunt him.

The Minister of State, Deputy English, accused some of us on this side of the House of not liking facts. We very much like facts, but the facts regarding what the Government is delivering in affordable and public housing are pretty grim. In the first six months of this year, the Government delivered 203 council houses in the four Dublin county councils, 16 of which are in Dublin city. That is a disastrous failure. If the Minister thinks it is not easy to deliver council houses, I ask him to explain to me, please, how this State built 38,450 houses in the 1930s, 52,500 in the 1950s and 61,953 in the 1970s but in the eight years that Fine Gael has been in government it has managed to build 3,148 council houses. We could do it when this was almost a Third World country but the Government cannot do it when we are one of the richest economies in the world. That is not an accident because there is another set of facts summed up by these headlines from the past year or two: "Cairn Homes profit jumps 191%"; "Cairn Homes founders receive €61.4 million in share awards"; "Profits at Ires Reit more than double during first half of 2018"; "Cerberus paid just €70,000 tax on Irish profits of €20m"; "Profits soar at one of Ireland's most well known developers". The last headline refers to Park Developments. The list could go on. Those are the facts.

NAMA has flogged €30 billion worth of property and land. The Minister may state there was no money for public housing when Fine Gael came into government, but we had NAMA, which had land, building and assets. However, Fine Gael allowed it to flog that land to property developers and speculators who are now selling it back to the State at massive profits and will walk away without paying any tax. The Government cannot even tell us how much tax has been forgone through the section 110 tax relief afforded to such speculators. That is a scandal, not an accident. Those are the facts.

The crisis can be resolved by building public housing on public land. Why does the Minister insist on telling fibs about Rebuilding Ireland? He stated that under Rebuilding Ireland the Government was going to add 110,000 social housing units. According to my copy of Rebuilding Ireland, 87,000 of those units will be delivered under the housing assistance payment, HAP, and the rental accommodation scheme, RAS. That is not social housing. Rather, those are tenancies which the landlord can pull out of at a couple of months' notice and land those people back into homelessness and emergency situations. Those are the figures provided by the Government.

We are not counting such tenancies.

I ask the Minister to, please, stop trying to deceive the public. The Government must build public housing on public land and stop relying on vulture funds, speculators and corporate landlords which are making an obscene fortune from the misery of others. It is clear the Government will not do that, which is the reason for the protests and people power of the sort exemplified by the Take Back the City campaign and the Raise the Roof demonstration today. We will see many more such protests over the coming months until we force the Government to end its support for speculators and developers and start to side with the people of this country and their right to an affordable, secure roof over their heads.

Question put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 4 October 2018.