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]
The idea that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government could not have taken half an hour to come out to participate in this crucially important debate speaks volumes for the Government and the fact that the lead spokesperson for Fianna Fáil could not have been bothered to show up - I presume we will see tweets of him canvassing in his constituency for local government candidates at some stage tomorrow - shows that the party is not taking this issue seriously either. I have some sympathy for Deputy Casey and the Minister of State, Deputy English, because on the occasions their parties deliver unpopular news, they are sent in to take the hit for their seniors.
There are tens of thousands of families with housing needs which are not being met by this Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael coalition. This includes tens of thousands of renters, first-time or aspiring first-time home buyers and people languishing on social housing waiting lists. The Minister of State is correct; social homes are being built. In fact, if he had listened to my contribution, he would have heard me acknowledge that. The problem is that it is nowhere close to enough.
The crucial difference between our party and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is that we would double capital investment in social and affordable housing. It is the only way in which to begin to increase output. We would shorten the delivery time we proposed to the Department in terms of approval and procurement to get those homes built more quickly. We would set higher targets for the local authorities to deliver social homes, affordable rental homes and affordable purchase homes, which is something that the Government, actively supported by Fianna Fáil, is refusing to do. Crucially, we would enshrine in the Constitution, subject to the approval of the people in a referendum, a legal right that would ensure that in the future parties such as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which say they want to resolve this crisis but which will not act to ensure that is done will be forced, either through the Constitution or the courts, to provide the homes that families so desperately need. Anyone watching this debate will be deeply disappointed, but not surprised. Once again Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael say they want to solve this housing crisis, but are showing by their actions that they are neither interested, capable or able to do it. That is why I believe there will be a major mobilisation on the streets of Dublin on Saturday in an attempt to force those parties to take this crisis seriously, for once and for all.