Seanad debates

Friday, 4 June 2021

9:30 am

Photo of Lynn BoylanLynn Boylan (Sinn Fein)

I welcome the opportunity to speak on the right to housing because Sinn Féin has long supported such a referendum. A referendum has been discussed by committees for years and now a motion is being discussed in the Seanad. I respectfully suggest it would be a better service if we could see the legislation promised in the programme for Government to deliver a referendum on the right to housing. The idea of a referendum has been discussed for long enough. The housing crisis is at breaking point. There is no indication in the motion of when to expect that referendum.

When it comes to action, Fianna Fáil’s record is severely lacking. In the first budget of this Government, there was no meaningful additional capital spend as part of the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage's, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, first spending proposals. There was just €160 million in additional capital expenditure to deliver only 993 extra homes, €124 million to deliver an additional 593 social homes and €35 million to deliver just over 400 cost rental. Sinn Féin has outlined how the Government must double capital expenditure in public housing and embark on the largest investment in housing in the history of the State, something that is also supported by those radical bodies the ESRI, the European monetary fund, EMF, and the EU. Sinn Féin in government will invest at least €3.8 billion to deliver 20,000 public homes on average, per year, during its term.

It is deeply disappointing that Fianna Fáil, it seems, has highjacked the good work of Home for Good. Fianna Fáil has learned nothing from the constitutional changes that have happened in this country. If it had been paying attention, it would know it does no one any favours for one political party to co-opt a campaign. The big constitutional changes have been won because of decades of campaigning and the hard work of civil society organisations working tirelessly to get cross-party consensus. If Fianna Fáil was serious about enshrining the right to housing, it should work to bring a cross-party legislative proposal on it to the Oireachtas.

The motion takes the wording directly from Home for Good, an excellent organisation that has been campaigning on this for years, but one would not know that from reading the motion or listening to Senator Fitzpatrick's speech. There is not a mention of Home for Good. This is the wrong way to go about building support for a referendum. If Fianna Fáil want to get serious about a right to housing and build the cross-party support that will be required, then they will find that Sinn Féin's door will be open to those discussions. However, let us not forget the wording is Home for Good's and cross-party consensus is not built by failing to acknowledge who did the work. I second the amendment.

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