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FactCheck: Tánaiste says First Home Scheme can't be used for Oscar Traynor Road affordable homes

Opposition TDs criticised comments in the Dáil last week

THE TÁNAISTE CLARIFIED in the Dáil today that homes in the Oscar Traynor Road affordable housing development cannot avail of the First Home Scheme, backtracking on a claim he had made last week.

The homes came under criticism when it was revealed last week that some 3-bedroom homes in the affordable scheme would cost up to €475,000, almost €170,000 more expensive than indicated when the scheme was approved by Dublin City Council in 2021.

However, the development has long-been the subject of controversy as it involves homes being built by a private developer on public lands.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Tánaiste Micheál Martin defended the price of the fifth of the homes in the scheme that are being sold as affordable homes (another 40% are social homes and the remaining 40% are cost-rental).

“Those prices are €100,000 lower than the market price at the moment, bear that in mind, because of schemes the Government introduced to support providers,” Martin said.

“Let us go further. Let us take the First Home Scheme, which Sinn Féin opposed, the shared equity scheme. Anyone purchasing a home through that scheme can get up to €100,000, which brings the price and the affordability down to €300,000.”

These claims were audible rejected by Sinn Féin TDs Eoin Ó Broin, Louise Reilly, and Pearse Doherty.

Martin continued: “The person will not have to pay €400,000, that is the point. It is already €100,000 below market value [...] You will not accept the basic fact that the schemes the Government has brought in through the First Home Scheme and the Help To Buy scheme significantly improve an individual’s or a couple’s capacity to make a house affordable, in this case from about €400,000 to €270,000 in terms of the amount that a person would have to pay out.”

There are a wide range of affordable home schemes, and what schemes can be used in conjunction with each other isn’t always clear.

However, in an email to The Journal, Ó Broin said that the First Home Scheme would not apply as “the Local Authority has already acquired equity in the property through the Affordable Housing Fund”.

Similarly, People Before Profit-Solidarity TD Paul Murphy, who also criticised the Tánaiste’s comments, told The Journal that the First Home Scheme was explicitly for “private developments”.

As the Tánaiste had already noted in the Dáil, the Oscar Traynor Road development was a mixed scheme, and the only ones being sold were already considered “affordable housing”.

More specifically, the Oscar Traynor Road homes for sale appear to be part of the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme which involves, as Ó Broin indicated, Dublin City Council (DCC) buying a share of the home.

“If Dublin City Council takes a 20% equity share, the purchaser will benefit from a 20% discount on the open market price,” the DCC website reads.

The First Homes Scheme is also a shared equity scheme, however it is done on the open market (subject to conditions), whereas people hoping to buy a home on the Oscar Traynor Road Affordable Purchase Scheme must apply through the council.

Pearse Doherty asked Martin today if he would accept that what he had claimed on the Dáil record last week regarding the scheme “was not true”. Martin did not answer directly but did admit that he had been mistaken.

He said:“I accept that the Affordable purchase home schemes Oscar Traynor are subsidized through the Local Authority Shared Equity Scheme, not the First Home Shared Equity Scheme, because I inadvertently said both.

“That does then mean that is also subsidized up to potentially €100,000 under that scheme, plus the €30,000 from the head to buy, which you didn’t reference, and it depends on what the market value of any given house is. But there is a state subsidy of €130,000.”

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