I have made the case to the Taoiseach on countless occasions that the half measures he has introduced to rein in cuckoo funds are woefully inadequate and simply will not work.
Apartments, which are perfectly decent homes, are excluded from the Government's plans. This leaves ordinary workers and families, especially in Dublin but in other cities also, at the mercy of these funds that can snap up entire apartment blocks under the noses of people who wish to buy their own homes. Many others find themselves stuck in a never-ending rental trap, paying ridiculous, eye-wateringly high, unaffordable rents to these funds, which still pay no tax on their rental income. We saw this morning that another US fund, Greystar, is set to snap up 342 homes on Griffith Avenue in Dublin. It is a matter of great shame for the Government that speculators in the housing market, who are exploiting citizens in this State, can buy homes ahead of hard-working families. Not only that, these funds then charge workers and families sky-high rent and pay no tax on their rental income. None of that changes under the Government's so-called plan.
It is scandalous that these tax breaks remain in place, but the decision to grant another tax break to allow and encourage these same funds to buy up homes and then lease them back to local councils, costing well above what it would cost the State to build homes, is mind-boggling. It shows complete contempt for our citizens who cannot put a roof over their heads. It is also an absolute and disgraceful waste of taxpayers' money. The Taoiseach approves of speculators and developers filling their boots while ordinary workers and families are left to one side. Again, this morning, we saw that a fund called Alpha Real Capital is snapping up houses and apartments in Finglas, Tallaght and Blanchardstown. It will lease these properties back to the State for the next 25 years. Not alone that, this fund is not finished yet because it plans to buy €500 million worth of homes to be similarly leased back to councils over the next 36 months. This evening, the Government wants to incentivise this fund, and others, to do precisely that. That is what the Government proposes to legislate for tonight with a last-minute sneaky amendment, hijacking a Bill that is supposed to deal with the extension of much-needed supports to business, simply to placate its mates in the funds industry. The Government intends to guillotine that debate. This is utterly shameful.
The Taoiseach leads a Government that will not solve our problem. Its actions add to our housing crisis, make it worse and dig the hole deeper for workers, families and young people caught in this nightmare. An entire generation of people are at their wits' end, wondering if they will ever escape the rental trap and own their own home. The Government's actions do not help them one bit; it is the contrary. I ask the Taoiseach to stop this, take this disgraceful amendment off the table, ditch this plan and get back to the drawing board. Let us have a plan that will work.