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Darragh O'Brien in the Dáil today.
Leaders' Questions

Tempers flare in Dáil over housing as 'Pearse' and 'Darragh' get on first-name terms

Pearse Doherty asked the Housing Minister: “Where the hell are the 50,000 homes, Darragh?”

THERE WERE RAISED voices and shouting during Leaders’ Questions today in a row over housing that ended with Labour’s Ivana Bacik offering the Ceann Comhairle advice on how to chair the Dáil.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and deputy leader of Sinn Féin Pearse Doherty went head to head over housing, with Doherty continuing to address the housing minister by his first name. 

Doherty asked the Minister if the Government would agree to set time aside in the Dáil next week for a debate on the Housing Commission report that was published by Government yesterday evening following a leak to media earlier this week. 

Doherty also asked the Minister where the 50,000 affordable homes are that Fianna Fáil promised it would deliver in 2020 if it got into Government. 

In its election manifesto the party said it would build 50,000 affordable homes for purchase costing below €250,000.

In his reply, the Minister didn’t answer either question and instead asked Doherty a number of questions and called on Sinn Féin to publish its independent analysis of its own housing proposals. 

When heckling broke out from the Sinn Féin benches, the Minister said: 

“This isn’t a laughing matter. Housing is important. We take it seriously. A very disorderly bunch Ceann Comhairle.”

Doherty said in response: “For four minutes, the minister couldn’t even get a couple of words to defend his own record.

“I understand the trouble you’re in Darragh because you know what I do agree with? I agree with the Housing Commission when they said that there is a need for a radical reset in government policy.”

He added: “Where the hell is the 50,000 homes, Darragh that you promise would be delivered if you were in government?”

The Minister responded: “Now that we’re on first name terms, Pearse, I will come back to you on that. I will debate you up and down, left, right and center on housing.”

The pair continued to argue while the Ceann Comhairle called for order. 

When it was Labour leader Ivana Bacik’s turn to speak she decried the “shouting match” and said she thinks debate “should be chaired in a way that enables a respectful exchange of views.”

“We’re in the middle of a housing disaster… And it’s really unedifying and unhelpful to listen to a shouting match between two men in this chamber, shouting trying to score points off each other.

“That’s not helpful for the over 13,000 people in homelessness,” Bacik said.

The Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, interjected and told Bacik that if she wants to “give a lesson on chairing” she “might come talk to him privately”. 

“I’m always happy to do so, Ceann Comhairle,” Bacik told him.  

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