Tuesday, 4 October 2022
Defective Concrete Products Levy: Motion [Private Members]
Sorca Clarke (Longford-Westmeath, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source
That the Government hopes to raise €80 million a year from this levy to part-fund a scheme by placing the burden on people who had no hand, act or part in creating these defects is deplorable, particularly as all of us know that those who were responsible were there because of a lack of regulation or light-touch regulation under previous Governments. In the midst of a housing crisis when the Government continually pays lip service to its plan to make housing affordable, it expects the public to believe the way to do that is to increase the price of the main ingredients - blocks and concrete. It was not Sinn Féin that said this levy would raise the cost of houses; it was the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. It stated that the levy will increase the cost of a home by €4,000. Those seeking to buy a home or extend their agricultural buildings cannot be left to foot the bill because this Government is so focused on blaming the bricks and blocks instead of those who have responsibility. That responsibility lies with the developers, the banks and the insurers. That is where the focus of this levy needs to be.
When Government backbenchers have been outside the walls of Leinster House, they have been beside themselves to criticise this levy. They, too, see that it is fundamentally flawed. I bet the price of one of those blocks, however, that they will come in here tomorrow and vote in favour of the Government. It is another exercise in misinformation - of saying one thing but doing something else. If the parties on the opposite side of the House put one tenth of the effort into pursuing those who are actually responsible for causing this issue rather that those who they see as being financially responsible for it, we would all be in a much better place.
It is very difficult for those of us in this House who have never been affected by mica, pyrite or defective apartments to truly understand the impact that has on people and families. However, I have spoken to apartment owners at Lakepoint in Mullingar. I have heard their concerns. I have seen them physically break down in tears at the thought of having to foot a bill for something they had no part in creating; something that was completely outside their control to address. What is being asked of these people is truly shameful. They are not the professionals in this situation. The professionals have run off into the wind - they closed the doors and reopened under another name a few days later.
It is the responsibility of the Government to step up here. It is its responsibility to put the financial burden and the levy on those who caused this issue in the first place rather than on those who are living with the consequences of that light-touch regulation.