Martin the FF Duck, it is alleged, is supposed to have phoned Leo the Leak last night. “Leo, Apollo FF and FG have a problem; there will be no “Soft Landing” because Darragh, Minister for mobile homes and tents is choking on his own dose of pure Bluff. What do you think? “Micheal, you got your Vaccine, I am personally going to Babysit Lantern Jaws O’Brien. I was just on the phone to my Mother and she found the old Moses Basket. I will put the Bluffer into it, cover him with a Foxford shawl and give him his Bottle every two hours until things calm down. It is not because I like the Gobshite; it is because it is my turn to be Taoiseach next and I don’t want this Government to Fall before I get the Chance to be on the Throne once again and at this time all the vaccines will be complete and the Praise will be for Leo, The Taoiseach.” The FF Lame Duck replies. “I am just listening to Hot Chocolate – You Win Again”

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Leo Varadkar looking to circle the wagons around beleaguered Darragh O’Brien

  3 hrs ago


Concern is growing in the heart of Government that ongoing attacks on Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs will compromise the capacity of it to tackle the housing crisis.Leo Varadkar wearing a suit and tie© Provided by Extra.ie

Darragh O’Brien is being sharply criticised privately within Fine Gael while unease is even growing within his own party’s ranks.

The beleaguered minister is facing a Fine Gael parliamentary party grilling on May 19 while the Greens have also requested a meeting.a man wearing a suit and tie: Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is being sharply criticised privately within Fine Gael while unease is even growing within his own party’s ranks. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is being sharply criticised privately within Fine Gael while unease is even growing within his own party’s ranks. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

The attacks come against a backdrop of increasing unhappiness at leadership level about the actions of their unruly TDs and senators.

A senior Fine Gael source said: ‘Leo [Varadkar] is not at all pleased. He has made it very clear this is no time to be messing and that Darragh [O’Brien] needs our support.’

One source noted the Fine Gael leader wants Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ‘to support him as much as possible in areas such as tax reform’.

Leo Varadkar wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: A senior Fine Gael source said: ‘Leo [Varadkar] is not at all pleased. He has made it very clear this is no time to be messing and that Darragh [O’Brien] needs our support’. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie A senior Fine Gael source said: ‘Leo [Varadkar] is not at all pleased. He has made it very clear this is no time to be messing and that Darragh [O’Brien] needs our support’. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie‘Leo is very aware that it’s a case of hanging together, there are three years to the next national elections and if the Government hasn’t made a significant difference by then the parties will suffer,’ the source added. ‘He believes this infighting is nuts and that the public will not thank us for it.’

Significantly, prior to Minister O’Brien’s ‘showdown’ with the Fine Gael TDs and senators, party chairman Richard Bruton has been asked to come up with a Fine Gael policy response.

One source noted: ‘It’s a clever ruse. Richard is the utter wet blanket. If he is deployed at the start of the meeting, he will take all the fire out of them. They will be asleep by the time Darragh speaks.’a man wearing a suit and tie: The attacks come against a backdrop of increasing unhappiness at leadership level about the actions of their unruly TDs and senators. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie The attacks come against a backdrop of increasing unhappiness at leadership level about the actions of their unruly TDs and senators. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also came to the defence of his struggling minister yesterday, claiming: ‘As far as I am concerned, Darragh has hit the ground running.’

He also conceded though that housing is ‘something I worry a great deal about. This generation is the most damaged in our history in terms of accessing housing’.

Another senior Fine Gael minister also warned: ‘Housing is going to have to be a shared problem. It has to be. Anything else is the politics of jumping off a cliff.’Micheal Martin wearing a suit and tie: Taoiseach Micheál Martin also came to the defence of his struggling minister yesterday, claiming: ‘As far as I am concerned, Darragh has hit the ground running.’ Julien Behal Photography© Provided by Extra.ie Taoiseach Micheál Martin also came to the defence of his struggling minister yesterday, claiming: ‘As far as I am concerned, Darragh has hit the ground running.’ Julien Behal Photography

One sympathetic source said of the beleaguered Housing Minister: ‘Housing is the new HSE, politicians go there to die. Only [Simon] Coveney escaped there unscathed.’

The ongoing uneasiness within Fine Gael was captured by one TD’s comment: ‘We won’t be pulling in our horns. He doesn’t appear to be able to understand what the officials are telling him in the department. He is seen, frankly, as being a bit of a spoofer.

‘It is all a bit of a mess. The cuckoo funds are running amok, no one can afford the affordable houses and this fellow looks as though he should be selling second-hand cars on the North Circular Road.’

Mr O’Brien is also struggling to maintain his standing within Fianna Fáil, with John McGuinness warning: ‘Fianna Fáil are in danger of reaping a bitter harvest on this. We have been associated with Fine Gael for too long, first with implementing confidence and supply and now in following their policies. We are not seen to be providing a radical alternative to the status quo or any alternative really.’a person wearing a suit and tie walking down the street: Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is also struggling to maintain his standing within Fianna Fáil. Pic: Fran Veale© Provided by Extra.ie Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is also struggling to maintain his standing within Fianna Fáil. Pic: Fran Veale

The pressure from the Opposition will intensify next week when Labour and Sinn Féin introduce proposals in the Dáil next week to impose stamp duty of 15% on cuckoo funds. Labour’s finance spokesman Ged Nash said the Government should bring forward immediate practical tax proposals to deal with cuckoo funds, such as an increase to the stamp duty rate on sales of residential property to investor funds as opposed to people buying a private home to live in.

Currently, a 1% stamp duty rate applies to all residential property sales up to €1million and then 2% on the balance above that, whether the purchaser is an owner-occupier, REIT (real estate investment trust) or private investor.

Mr Nash said: ‘In recent budgets, the Labour Party has called for an increase in the taxation rates on REITs, and a clampdown on tax avoidance through a Standing Commission on Taxation.’

The consequences of this being ignored by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil ‘is now causing havoc in the housing market’, he said.a man wearing glasses and a suit and tie: Labour’s finance spokesman Ged Nash said the Government should bring forward immediate practical tax proposals to deal with cuckoo funds, such as an increase to the stamp duty rate on sales of residential property to investor funds as opposed to people buying a private home to live in. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie Labour’s finance spokesman Ged Nash said the Government should bring forward immediate practical tax proposals to deal with cuckoo funds, such as an increase to the stamp duty rate on sales of residential property to investor funds as opposed to people buying a private home to live in. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

He added: ‘These funds are very active in the market right now. I know in my own town of Drogheda that investment funds are trying to buy up any second-hand property through estate agents before it even comes to the market. From other colleagues I know this is happening in Dublin and Kildare too.

‘It is really insidious as first-time buyers don’t even know they are losing out on the chance to buy a home because it doesn’t even reach Daft.ie or MyHome.ie.

‘These funds are paying a premium above what would be paid on the open market.

‘That’s why Labour believes a targeted increase to the stamp duty rate that applies to the sale of residential property to investment funds, whether it is a new estate or an existing second-hand home, would act as a deterrent, once the rate increase was big enough.’Paschal Donohoe wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: One source noted Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar wants Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ‘to support Darragh O’Brien as much as possible in areas such as tax reform’. Pic: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland© Provided by Extra.ie One source noted Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar wants Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ‘to support Darragh O’Brien as much as possible in areas such as tax reform’. Pic: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Even ‘Boris Johnson’s Tories have copped on’, he added. ‘In the UK a stamp duty land tax rate of 12% applies to property costing over £1.5million and an extra 3% applies if you already own one residential property taking the rate to 15%.’

Sinn Féin will also introduce a motion to the Dáil tomorrow calling on the Government ‘to tax advantages; impose a stamp duty surcharge; and legislate for measures to restrict the practices’ of cuckoo funds’. Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly said: ‘The fact is that the housing crisis is continuing to spiral out of control and young people trying to buy homes to live in are forced to compete with these big investment funds. This practice was conceived by Fine Gael and Labour and continued by Fianna Fáil. Housing policy should note that your home is the place you live in – it’s not a commodity or an investment, it’s a home.’

The Government has yet to outline its response.

Prior to the last budget, there was a suggestion by officials in the Department of Finance that ‘stamp duty on residential property acquisitions over €1million should be increased by a per cent or two’.

One Government source noted: ‘They will have to cut a lot deeper than that. Darragh O’Brien and Paschal Donohoe are going to have to stop dithering and start doing.’

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