The lives of an entire generation have been defined by a housing crisis. It is a crisis created and worsened by bad Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael policy. For so many people, the aspiration of purchasing or owning their own home has been reduced to a distant pipe dream. For years, people have been calling out for a government that will take the housing crisis seriously and implement a plan that will once again make housing affordable for workers and families on average incomes.
When the Government took power last June, it claimed it would be that Government. It said it would fix housing and introduce a plan that makes an affordable home an achievable goal for ordinary people and families. Then the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy O'Brien, spent month upon month promising an affordable housing plan. We all waited and waited, only to be extremely disappointed by what he and the Government produced and, more than that, to be very angry because the shared equity scheme that the Minister has come up with does absolutely nothing to make housing more affordable. In fact, it will achieve quite the opposite. It will prop up already unaffordable prices and make a bad situation so much worse. His policy could be described as a continuation of disastrous Fine Gael housing policy but also with strong echoes of the failed Celtic tiger policies of the Taoiseach's party, Fianna Fáil. It will have the effect of maintaining unaffordable prices and saddling working people with more unsustainable debt.
I have raised this issue with the Taoiseach before. I have said to him for some time that this plan is dangerous and I have advised him that it will not work. Of course, I have not been on my own. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Economic and Social Research Institute and the Central Bank have warned and told the Taoiseach that his scheme will drive prices up. Even the Fine Gael group of councillors on Dublin City Council have begun to see sense and have come out against this scheme. It seems so far that, just as in the bad old days when the Taoiseach was last in government, his Minister seems intent on ploughing on regardless. In the middle of a housing crisis, perhaps only a Fianna Fáil Minister for housing could even think of introducing a scheme that would inflate house prices and put money straight into the pockets of developers, while bullishly ignoring warnings from senior Government officials and experts.
The truth is the Taoiseach's price-inflating shared equity scheme was written and designed by property developers for property developers. When he is trying to make housing affordable, he should not allow developers to call the tune because their job is to maximise profit for themselves. The job of Government is to deliver affordable housing for ordinary citizens. However, it seems that, with Fianna Fáil back in charge of housing, property developers are back in control and ordinary people will literally pay the price for that.
If the Taoiseach persists with this lame duck scheme, home ownership will remain beyond the reach of those on modest incomes. I ask the Taoiseach to scrap this scheme.