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Eoin Ó Broin: 'He is the Minister. The buck stops with him. He must change the policy... or go'

The Sinn Féin spokesperson defends his party’s motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister.

Eoin Ó Broin TD, Sinn Fein

IN AN ARGUMENT about numbers it is easy to lose track of the real people behind the statistics.

But imagine for a second that it was your grandmother who was homeless… Not knowing where she was going to sleep tonight. Moving from hostel to hostel, scared, anxious and confused.

Behind every single statistic is a real person. Someone’s brother or sister, mother or father.

And every single one of the 9,891 people, including 3,867 children, living in emergency accommodation is being failed by Eoghan Murphy and his housing plan.

Published two years ago, Rebuilding Ireland promised to tackle the housing crisis. It claimed to be the biggest investment in social housing in the history of the state. Homes would be built, vacant houses brought back into use, hotels emptied of homeless families and our broken private rental sector repaired.

Two years on and – by almost every single indicator – things have gotten worse.

Homelessness is up 60%.

Child homelessness up 77%.

Pensioner homelessness up 80%.*

There are more families living in hotel accommodation today than when the Government failed to meet its own commitment to end the use of hotels in June 2017.

Social housing output remains glacial, with less real social houses set to be delivered by Government this year than last. Not a single affordable home to rent or buy has been delivered from any central Government scheme.

Meanwhile private rents and house prices continue to spiral out of control. An entire generation of young people are locked out of renting or buying their own home.

And while planning permissions and house completions are up, it’s not fixing the problem. Why? Because too much of what is being built is overpriced student accommodation at €1,000 per month and unaffordable family homes priced between €340,000 and €500,000.

The failure of Rebuilding Ireland is affecting an ever-growing number of people.

Frustration at the failure of Fine Gael and its Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has spilled out onto the streets. Take Back the City has given voice to the locked out generation. The Irish Congress of Trade Union Raise the Roof demo on 3 October promises to be even bigger.

What people are demanding is a change of policy. They want real investment in social and affordable homes. They want emergency measures to tackle the homeless crisis and the cost of rents. The want to be able to have secure and affordable accommodation.

Despite all the evidence and the growing public anger, Eoghan Murphy insists that his plan is working. He tells us that he just needs a little more time. He has been in Government for more than seven years. How much more time doe he need?

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When challenged with the facts, he lashes out at hard-working council staff and at opposition politicians desperately trying to distract from his own failings. He is the Minister. The buck stops with him. If he is not willing to change the policy, then he is an obstacle to addressing the crisis and needs to go.

It is time to end the Fine Gael housing chaos. It it time for TDs from all parties to make clear which side they are on. Do they stand with Fine Gael’s failed Rebuilding Ireland policy and its failed Minister for Housing? Or do they stand with the tens of thousands of people who simply want to be able to have a place they can call home.

Much of the opposition are supporting the Sinn Féin motion. But Micheál Martin has instructed his TDs to abstain. It’s time for Fianna Fáil members to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths on housing. They are either with the Government or they are with the people. They cannot have it both ways.

Today’s Motion of No Confidence in Eoghan Murphy is not just about changing the Minister. It is about changing the policy. If passed, it would send a powerful signal to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that his Government’s approach to housing is no longer acceptable. That people will no longer settle for rising homelessness, rising rents and rising house prices.

It would force the Government to make Budget 2019 a housing budget.

Eoin O Broin is Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for housing. The Dáil will hear statements on the Motion of Confidence in the Housing Minister tonight at 8pm. 

*This section of the article was updated with correct information at 10.15am on 25/09/2018. The source data referred to can be found here.  

About the author:

Eoin Ó Broin  / TD, Sinn Fein

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