Martin and Doherty traded strong words in the Dáil today.
Leaders' Questions

'Blah, blah, blah, Sinn Féin': Doherty and Martin face off over housing

There were robust exchanges in the Dáil this afternoon over the Government’s housing record.

THE GOVERNMENT AND Sinn Féin have faced off yet again over housing the Dáil, with Pearse Doherty and Tánaiste Micheál Martin trading barbs over housing targets and policies.

Martin was standing in for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions, and he was grilled over the Government’s record on housing by the Sinn Féin finance spokesperson.

Doherty started his questioning by referencing a woman “who has a good job at a Dublin hospital” but cannot find a place to live.

“The person is in their 30s, they have a good salary, but she can’t find a single place to live that is somewhat even reasonable,” he said.

“And this person tells us that they are completely hopeless,” he said.

She says that the situation they and so many of her generation face has been created by successive governments allowing the few to profit off her generation and lock them out of any sense of stability.

Doherty said he agreed with this assessment and that the Government was “failing” to provide people with affordable homes. He said that Government housing targets and investment were too low.

Doherty also stated that targets on Government spending and social housing were not being met.

“By June of this year, only 15% of the social homes that were promised had been delivered and only 123 out of the 4,400 affordable homes that were promised had been delivered,” he said.

Doherty stated that this and other targets not being met meant that the Government’s plan was “failing”.

Martin’s response

In response, the Tánaiste defended the Government’s housing plan and attacked Sinn Féin’s record in Opposition. 

“I would say to your deputy that you’re wrong,” he said.

And no shouting and roaring is going to change the fact that this government has significantly turned the dial in relation to house construction in terms of over 30,000 houses constructed last year, and we will exceed targets again this year.

He also said the Government had delivered 30,000 new social homes since 2020, and would continue to ramp up construction. Martin said commencements and completions of housing were also up on last year, and said that Sinn Féin had no comprehensive housing plan in place. 

“You have nothing but a collection of sound bites and a few pages,” he said.

You haven’t put in the hard work.

Martin also criticised Sinn Féin on its record for assisting first time buyers and with the Help to Buy Scheme, saying it did not support young people. 

Back and forth

In response, Doherty said:

“The Government’s response to any of the crisis that we point out to the government is ‘but, but but, Sinn Féin’. That’s the sum up to you,” he said.

That we’ve stopped all of this, that we’re the fault for a housing crisis despite the fact that your partners in government have been in government for 12 years.

He said it was time the Government took “its head out of the sand” and that people had lost any hope that they will be able to afford a home.

“The dogs in the street know that the targets you have set are too low,” he said, stating that the Government had failed to meet its social and affordable housing targets.

“You’re wrong,” said Martin in response, with Doherty shouting across the chamber: “Explain to me how I’m wrong.”

At this point Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly rang the bell and intervened to call for “a bit of respect”.

“Shouting is not a policy, and shout and roaring doesn’t deal with the substance of this issue,” Martin said in response, before laying out the Government’s figures on first-time buyers and house purchases over the past year, and once again criticising Sinn Féin’s record.

“Do you want me to whisper it to you? Explain to me how I’m wrong,” Doherty said.

“You are anti-first time buyer,” Martin said, before Doherty got the last word:

“You have missed every single target and your government’s making things worse. Time to get your head out of the sand,” he said, before Connolly once again called for calm.

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