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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
government formation

Fianna Fáil says position that a rent freeze is unconstitutional has not changed since the election

The issue of a rent freeze was discussed with the Green Party.

FIANNA FÁIL SAYS its position on a rent freeze has not changed since the general election – but its housing spokesperson said the party is willing to look at all options to help people who are trapped paying high rents.

Darragh O’Brien told reporters today that the issue of a rent freeze was raised during government formation talks with the Green Party, which took place over the last two days.

Prior to the election, Fianna Fáil published legal advice stating that the roll-out of a rent freeze would be unconstitutional. 

Despite allowing a Sinn Féin Bill proposing a rent freeze pass in the Dáil in December, the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin previously failed to commit to a rent freeze if he enters into government. 

However, speaking to for the general election podcast The Candidate, Martin said he was not “instinctively against” a rent freeze.

When pressed on the issue today, O’Brien said his party will share the legal advice with the Green Party.

He described the housing workshop between the two parties as “very good”, stating that a lot of ideas were put forward. 

“Many areas of commonality of agreement, particularly focusing on local authorities, building delivery of public homes on public land, affordable purchase and cost rental, which is something that’s important to us and the Green Party.

“The issue of rents and renters and how we can help renters obviously came up as part of that discussion.

“Rent freeze was mentioned, there was no further discussion on it with regard to any changes.

“We said we’d share our legal advice, which we will do and we’re willing to look at all options with other parties to help those who are stuck in rents.

“The main one actually being supply – getting cost rental up and running and allowing those couples and individuals who actually want to buy and get on the housing ladder through an affordable purchase scheme,” he said. 

He pointed out that these meetings are “initial discussions” where policy ideas are being exchanged. 

When asked if the party’s position on the issue has changed, O’Brien clarified by stating “it has not”.

“The legal advice that we got is the same as what we got a number of weeks ago before the general election,” he added.

“There’s been no change on that. What we’re open to doing on any matter is actually looking at what others will say.

“We’ve had an exchange of views. That’s what discussions and negotiations are about,” he added. 

Other parties such as Sinn Féin called for a rent freeze in their manifestos prior to the general election. Sinn Féin also questioned the legal advice of Fianna Fáil which concludes that a general rent freeze “would be unconstitutional” as it would restrict the property rights of the owners of rental properties”.

The advice, which the party published, states a rent freeze could not be justified, as it would be “disproportionate”.

David Kenny – Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin and co-author of the leading text on Irish constitutional law, Kelly: the Irish Constitution – explored the proposed legislation for a rent freeze last year for

Many commentators have argued that only the courts can determine if something is unconstitutional.

Reacting to O’Brien’s comments today, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson said renters cannot trust Fianna Fáil in government. 

“This demonstrates that Fianna Fáil have no understanding of or interest in addressing the rental crisis. Only a government for change can deliver real change for renters.

“We don’t just need a rent freeze, we need to put money back in renters pockets and we need to see the roll out of affordable cost rental homes.

“This package of measure is the only way to give renters and their families a break,” he said. 

Sinn Féin is in favour of the rent freeze capped at three-years.


There have been an array of talks between parties this week, but as the weekend approaches, other than a few informal meetings tomorrow, discussions are dying down.

This week, Micheal Martin met with the Regional Independent Group, the Rural Independents, and the Social Democrats with the party stating that contact will continue with those parties in the coming days. 

One of the big meetings on the agenda for next week is the day-long talks with Fine Gael next week. Leo Varadkar continues to maintain that his party is readying itself to enter the opposition.  

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