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'I won't be bullied by you': O'Brien and Doherty clash over State subsidy scheme for developers

The housing minister says the scheme aims to bring into use 80,000 un-commenced planning permissions.

Updated May 25th 2022, 3:39 PM

HOUSING MINISTER DARRAGH O’Brien clashed with Sinn Féín’s Pearse Doherty during Leaders’ Questions today as the minister was asked “what planet” he is living on. 

Doherty raised the Government’s new housing initiative, known as Croí Conaithe, which aims to support the building of apartments for sale to owner-occupier households in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

The planned scheme aims to bridge the current “viability gap” where the cost of building apartments in these cities is higher than the market sale price.

The scheme plans to deliver up to 5,000 apartments by 2026.

The new State subsidy will see developers secure up to €144,000 in funding for each apartment they build outside the Dublin area.

The Government argues that increasing the supply of owner-occupier apartments frees up housing in the rental sector and can reduce pressure on the rental market, in turn alleviates pressure on our social housing waiting lists.

However, Doherty hit out at the proposal, stating that developers can get up to €144,000 for every apartment that they deliver, but there is no price reduction for home buyers.

The apartment buildings will be sold at the market value, with the Housing Department stating that a one-bed is estimated to cost €320,000, a two-bed to cost €390,000 and a three-bed to sell for €445,000. 

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

‘Galway tent days’

Doherty said the plan harked back to the ‘Galway tent’ era of Fianna Fáil, stating that it is not aimed at helping ordinary families and workers.

“What you need to do is come to your senses,” said Doherty, who told the minister to scrap the scheme. 

Defending the new scheme, the minister hit back against Doherty stating:

“The reality of it is at every juncture, at every juncture on this, you’ve tried to distort what the truth is. It is a targeted measure to support homeownership in our five major cities. Where the supports are, I’ll repeat it again, go directly to the homeowner.”

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He said the scheme aims to bring into use the 80,000 un-commenced planning permissions in the five cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford. 

There was much back and forth between the two, as the minister told Doherty to “calm down a little bit”.

O’Brien also denied that the Government was being secretive on the new plan, stating that all the documents relating to the new scheme have been published online.

“I won’t be bullied by you,” the minister said to Doherty. 

“You’re opposed to build-to-buy. We know you’re opposed to build-to-rent, even though we need more rental properties, but we need a balance between ownership, we want homeownership and we want apartments,” the minister said.

O’Brien said the proof is in the commencement orders. 

“There’s improvements happening. We’re not there yet. And we know that but we’re being honest with people, don’t try to distort the truth,” said the minister. 

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