Thursday, 3 June 2021
An Bille um an Naoú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Ceart chun Tithíochta) 2020: An Dara Céim [Comhaltaí Príobháideacha] - Thirty-ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Housing) Bill 2020: Second Stage [Private Members]
Gino Kenny (Dublin Mid West, People Before Profit Alliance)
If the Minister of State wants to see what is wrong with the housing policies of successive Governments, he need only look at the recent media reports of vulture funds, cuckoo funds, financial institutions or whatever one wants to call them buying up tracts of housing. They come to Ireland for one purpose only, and that is to make profits at the expense of first-time buyers, renters and the citizens of this country who want to find a home. Mullen Park in Maynooth was just one incident. In Lucan in my constituency, 400 homes have been bought by a vulture fund. This denies people who want to buy a home and settle in a community.
To make matters worse, these vulture funds are paying no tax whatsoever. That concept was created by the Fine Gael Government. There is a perfect storm of policy and the ongoing homeless crisis. People will scratch their heads and ask how a Government that has been in power since 2011, and was in power previously, has got housing so wrong. There is plenty of money to throw at housing, but it is going to the wrong places, and thousands of people are still in emergency accommodation. These financial institutions, which is the posh name for the cuckoo funds, serve one purpose only, that being, to serve their shareholders rather than people who want to rent or buy.
I will take the Minister of State back to February 2020 when there was a general election and a political earthquake. One of the main reasons for that earthquake was housing. Some people had homes and so forth, but they had a considerable amount of empathy for those who could not find homes or were being rented out of the market. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were punished for that.
I will give the Minister of State some free advice. If the Government does not address the situation in the remaining four years of its tenure, it will fry politically because of it.
The people of this country will never forgive the Government. They will punish the Government at the ballot box if it does not sort this situation. It is completely unacceptable that so many people are homeless in this State, which is one of the richest states in the world and in which people cannot even rent a home. People who have good wages and are on good salaries cannot even buy a home. There is something fundamentally wrong with the policy of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. That policy is looking to the free market all the time. There is an answer to this. The answer is to build homes on public land and build them for people rather than for profits. As I said, these vulture funds are here for one reason and one reason only. They do not serve any other purpose. Their purpose stems from a policy the Government introduced. They are not wanted here. Nobody wants them and they should be gone forever. That is free advice for the Minister of State. He has four years to get it right.