Only eight ‘affordable homes’ to be provided in 2021, McDonald tells Dáil in heated exchanged with Taoiseach
30th September 2021
© Getty Images Mary Lou McDonald
Despite repeated Government pledges on affordable homes for working people – only eight such “affordable homes” will be provided in the entirety of 2021, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has told the Dáil.
The revelation led to heated exchanges with Taoiseach Micheál Martin who accused Sinn Féin of “hypocrisy.”
The row led Dáil chairman, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, to warn Ms McDonald she was bringing parliament into disrepute.
The Sinn Féin leader said despite a scheme unveiled in October 2018 absolutely no affordable homes were built in the two years 2019 and 2020. She added that Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who was supported the Fine Gael minority government in 2018, had welcomed the affordable homes scheme and said his party influenced its delivery.
“You have said many times that housing will be your priority. You’ve said many times you want working people to be able to buy their own homes,” Ms McDonald accused the Taoiseach. She said the revelation of only eight affordable homes came in an official reply from Housing Minister, Darragh O’Brien, and could not be denied.
The Sinn Féin leader accused the Taoiseach of lacking any credibility around such promises. She further charged that his Government was simply recycling “failed policies” which “lined the pockets” of private enterprise and property developers.
The Taoiseach then rounded on Ms McDonald and insisted his Government was very much focused on delivering affordable homes. He accused Sinn Féin of “hyprocicy” on housing – opposing the principle of affordable homes and private ownership, while at local council level opposing specific housing developments.
“Our policy is very much focused on affordable homes,” the Taoiseach insisted. He said Fianna Fáil was not in Government in 2018 and 2019 and its time in power since June 2020 has seen two major lockdowns on building sites due to Covid 19.
He said the Government has now put in place detailed plans, backed by funding of €4bn per year, with coordination involving local councils and approved housing associations.
The Taoiseach accused Sinn Féin of opposing large housing developments in Clondalkin, Tallaght and Swords in the Dublin area.
“What I think is a scandal is the hypocrisy that emanates from you,” the Taoiseach said.
Ms McDonald then appealed directly to the Dáil chairman, accusing the Taoiseach of breaching his obligation to answer questions in this phase of Dáil exchanges.
At that stage Mr Ó Fearghaíl, warned Ms McDonald that she was bringing parliament into disrepute and the discussion ended.