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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 18 April, 2019
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With late night talks failing to bring about agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on rental caps, today’s Leaders’ Questions is likely to be dominated by talk of the proposed new renting plan. 

Housing Minister Simon Coveney launched his plan this week, that would see a cap on rent increases in the designated zones in Dublin and Cork to 4% per year over a three year period. 

Things could get interesting… 

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions today, folks. The next 24 hours in Irish politics should be very interesting. Stay with us for all the latest.

Someone’s mobile phone is going off in the Dáil and it has a festive tune.

“We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas…”

Actually, it turns out it is Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh’s Christmas tie!

Jim Daly raises the very important issue of Santa Claus’ transatlantic travel permit.

He wants to ensure that it is is safe and also asks the Tánaiste if Fianna Fáil have opposed the permit – which he said would result in only partial delivery of presents to the boys and girls in Ireland.

Good news for once. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are in agreement on this one.

“I can confirm there is no difficulty for Santa Claus’ permit to travel,” says the Tánaiste.

She said there have been no oppositions made to the permit. Santa is free to travel in Irish airspace.

Phew!

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Ruth Coppinger says they still haven’t seen the white smoke between FF and FG.

She says she was talking to a mother in Dublin who wanted to the thank this government for giving her landlord a licence to bring in an upward only rent review for Dublin and Cork.

Kelleher is up again and says he’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, but he’d like to know if they will be sitting tomorrow.

They were going to be sitting on Friday – then that was cancelled – but it looks like they might be back in the chamber tomorrow to get the rental plan over the line.

Mary Lou McDonald says Merry Christmas to the “elves and gnomes of Fianna Fáil”.

She says maybe they can get a bit of mistletoe and “kiss and make-up” with Fine Gael.

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Fitzgerald says there are extra home care packages now available for many hospitals but says there are challenges as the numbers rise.

There is increased investment, she adds.

Mattie McGrath is now asking the Tánaiste about the home care packages.

The Tánaiste says they home care packages have not been cut and says extra supports are in place.

Fitzgerald says they think the government’s plan is the right approach.

“We know we have to take action,” she states.

Boyd Barrett says the only certainty she is offering is the certainty of a rise in rents and evictions.

Do you think that is a comfort, he asks.

How are they supposed to pay it?

You are trying to square a circle that cannot be squared.

He says income does not match earnings and people cannot afford an increase in rent of 12% over a three-year period.

Fitzgerald says his suggestions will dry up the market, stating that there are no “magical solutions”.

“These are targeted interventions,” she reiterates.

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The roofs of people are in jeopardy here, says Richard Boyd Barrett.

He says all they are interested in is making sure landlords make profits.

Boyd Barrett says the average rent in his constituency in Dun-Laoghaire Rathdown for 3-bed house is €2,280 per month.

How are they supposed to pay it? asks the TD, adding that this government are refusing to look at the wages of these workers.

“It is utterly shameful.”

“We have never had this kind of intervention,” replies the Tánaiste, calling it “dramatic”.

“This has never been done before… it is the right thing to do.”

She says they want to move on with the plan today and get it over the line.

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Tánaiste says “we all have to work together”.

What is going to happen now instead of facing 15-20% increases they will face increases much lower ones.

She said there is no point in saying they don’t want people to rent in the rental market. Fitzgerald says her criticisms are inaccurate.

“If the cap fits, wear it,” says McDonald.

She says the antics that have played out confirm to citizens that parties are capable of playing games with this issue.

McDonald says rents should be linked to the Consumer Price Index. She wants to know where people are going to get the 4% increased that is in the plan.

The Tánaiste says if McDonald had read the strategy, she would know all of that is dealt with in the plan.

Mary Lou McDonald is on her feet and she wants to talk about rent.

She said “antics” between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the last 24 hours has increased the stress for renters before Christmas.

“You have added to those families stress, anxiety and worry.”

She said both parties are only in their own interests, adding that this government has shown “inaction” and “incompetence.”

She accuses both FG and FF of “playing politics with the roofs over peoples’ heads”. She says it looks like old politics to her.

McDonald says Fianna Fáil knew well in advance what was in the new rent plan but now they want to get “one over” on Fine Gael.

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She said extra money has been provided for the winter initiative, but said it needs to be acknowledged that the challenges are enormous.

Kelleher says the HSE service plan is a “work of fiction” and says it does not fund the expansion of services.

He says it will not deliver safe practices in hospitals.

Next year will see the highest health budget Ireland has ever seen, answers the Tánaiste. “There is a big challenge, no one is doubting that,” she adds.

She says criticising the new service plan is “disingenuous”.

She begins listing off the new services that the health budget will deliver in the coming year.

He hits back and says he “admires” the Tánaiste’s defence of the “work of fiction”.

Kelleher says the money is not going to sustain the activity in our hospitals.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is taking Leaders’ Questions today. Sitting next to her is Simon Coveney.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher is up on his feet and he wants to talk about the HSE’s service plan.

It’s been a long night for members of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who were up late trying to reach a deal over the new rental plan.

Simon Coveney says he’s not budging on the 4% cap. While Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen wants to see some measures included, such as bringing in other locations around Ireland into the rental pressure zones.

Here’s the latest:

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