At the weekend, we learned that an investment fund is buying up the majority of homes in a development at Mullen Park in Maynooth. The fund, which has a "war chest" of €1 billion, has robbed first-time buyers of the opportunity to buy their own homes. The fund will acquire these homes and then put them up for rent at extortionate rates. Of course, investment funds buying housing in bulk is not a new phenomenon. It has been happening for a number of years. The truth is that it is Government policy to incentivise and support these private funds to buy up housing across the State. Indeed, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have rolled out the red carpet for them with a range of sweetheart tax advantages. These funds pay no corporation tax, no capital gains tax and minimal stamp duty, and they charge some of the highest rents in the State, on which they then pay no tax.
This cushy regime gives massive financial advantage to wealthy investment funds. No person trying to buy a home could possibly compete with them, be it in Maynooth or anywhere else. People scrimp and save every cent to put themselves in a position to buy a home, but just when they think they are getting closer to that goal, another Government with another bad decision pushes their dream further away. In this case, a wealthy investment fund has swooped in and bought homes from underneath the noses of families and workers.
This is not happening by accident. It is the outworking of a policy designed and defended by Fianna Fáil and its partners in government, Fine Gael. Year after year, we in Sinn Féin have submitted amendments to finance Bills to close down the tax advantages that allow these funds to squeeze workers and families out of the housing market. Year after year, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have clubbed together to stop that from happening. As recently as last November, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party voted against every single one of Sinn Féin's amendments. Time and again, the Government has favoured investment funds over ordinary people.
Now, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, says that Fianna Fáil's big plan to tackle this scandal is to limit investment funds to purchasing only 70% of a housing estate. Well, woo-hoo. That gives nobody any comfort. That is outrageous. While investment funds continue to enjoy the Government's tax advantages, they will still be able to gazump ordinary people for the majority of homes for sale in any estate on any day of the week. They will be able to do that because the Government allows and encourages it.
This approach is just another plank of a housing policy that is failing. The Government has produced an unambitious and anemic plan that has no understanding even of affordability. Some €450,000 for a home in Dublin is not affordable. People deserve better. We can and must make housing affordable again. We can deliver homes that working people can actually afford and we can tackle extortionate rents, but, first, the Government needs to stop lining the pockets of wealthy investors and developers. Maintaining sweetheart tax advantages for investment funds must come to an end. When will the Government take immediate action to close these tax advantages and stand with workers and families as opposed to the funds? When will it introduce legislation to stop them from buying homes in bulk?