Tuesday, 14 May 2019
An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (An Ceart chun Teaghaise) 2016: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha] - Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to a Home) Bill 2016: Second Stage [Private Members]
Pearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
The Minister of State is saying this is not true. I will tell him something. A real estate investment trust, REIT, buying up apartments, snatching them away from families who want to put a roof over their heads, does not have to pay a penny of tax on the income, or any of the 33% capital gains tax, CGT, that everyone else has to pay on the gains they make. These companies are getting away with hundreds of millions of euro in tax benefits as a result of the policies of the Government, supported by Fianna Fáil.
Earlier today the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach was invited to the offices of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation, IMHO, to see what is happening, under the bonnet, to those in mortgage distress. Only two members of the committee turned up. Shame on Fine Gael; not one member of that party turned up. It does not want to see the truth, or to hear about what is coming down the line in terms of the number of evictions that are about to happen.
This Bill is timely. It is not radical. This is something that was supported five years ago by 100 randomly selected citizens. Some 84 of them said the right to housing should be enshrined in the Constitution. However, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil say no. They will cry crocodile tears when people do not have that right. They say it will make no difference, but that is nonsense. It will make a difference, because there will be an obligation on the Government and successive Governments to bring forward policies that are in line with that constitutional right. I appeal to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to do the right thing, for the first time since this Government came into being, on the issue of housing. They should stand up and do the right thing for the people by fulfilling the desire of the Constitutional Convention and allow this legislation, proposed by Deputy Ó Broin, who has brought forward many solutions for this crisis, to be enshrined in the Constitution. It should take the right step along the road to recovery for the first time.