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IT’S NOON AND that could only mean one thing in Leinster House. It’s time for Leaders’ Questions.

Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers says rental cap must be extended to other areas around the country as soon as possible. She highlights that rising rents is also an issue in her own constituency of Mayo.

She also raises the news that homelessness as reached 7,000.

Richard Bruton said the HAP scheme will extend to Dublin in March.

He said last year the government bought up 1,000 homes and said rapid build homes are being built.

He said other areas where the rent cap will be rolled out will be announced today or shortly by Minister Simon Coveney.

Chambers said it is not good enough that there are 2,000 vacant homes around the country. The Mayo TD said there is a huge issue about the lack of housing for single people.

She said the commitments made by government are not translating into work on the ground.

Bruton said it is key they get supply moving and said the minister is focusing on getting that done.

Up next, Mar Lou McDonald and she wants to talk about Trump’s wall.

Some of the most dangerous rhetoric said during the campaign is now being followed through.

McDonald said the Irish government can and we should speak out against it.

She wants to know what message Enda Kenny will give to President Donald Trump on St Patrick’s Day.

leaders

Bruton said we have to deal with countries whose politics we don’t always agree with.

Ireland of course the highest standards in terms of protections of rights and will continue to do so.

In terms of the undocumented, he said there have been repeated meetings between Enda Kenny, Charlie Flanagan and representatives of the US government at all levels.

He said those meetings will continue to be pursued as it is an “important area of public concern for our citizens”.

Bruton said there are of course concerns about what was said by Trump during the campaign “and the policies that might follow”.

The Irish government will work to ensure that Irish citizens are protected, he said.

He said the changes around migration is something the Irish government need to be alert to, but he said the Irish government would work with the new administration.

McDonald said Kenny must ensure he puts forward the values of the Irish people when he visits the White House this St Patrick’s Day.

Richard Boyd Barrett is on his feet now and says he wants the government to admit that Simon Coveney’s Rebuilding Ireland is a failure.

He highlights that there is just one apartment for rent today in his area. He says one apartment block had their rents leap the day before the rent caps were introduced.

Bruton says the plan is just six months old but is delivering.

Bruton said derelict sites are now going to be built on.

“We are going to have a variety of homes… we are moving to get building happen.”

Barrett says the number of people in homeless accomodation has increased by 91% in the last two years.

How you can say it is working is beyond me.

How if you give these sites over to private developers, how is it going to be affordable, he asks.

What is affordable is public housing.

That is the fact.

The glass bottle site in Dublin, in which Barrett says Ireland paid a “bitter price for” will only have a small section for social housing.

Bruton says it is not going to be solved by 100% social building – he says a variety of homes are needed, including starter homes for first-time buyers.

The Macroom Bypass is now being raised by Danny Healy Rae.

Bruton said it is a high priority in the Cork Kerry region and will cost over €160 million.

Healy Rae says there seems to be a discrepancy about how much it is going to cost.

He says it is vital importance to get this project going in time for the Rugby World Cup.

Surely the people of Kerry are entitled to a proper road into their county.

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