‘Long finger’ policy not good enough on housing, McDonald says

ireland
‘Long Finger’ Policy Not Good Enough On Housing, Mcdonald Says
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The Government’s failure to deliver its affordable housing plan as promised is “not good enough” for the thousands of people without a secure roof over their heads, the Dáil has heard.

Leader of the opposition Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of having a “policy of manana, manana and putting everything on the long finger”.

She said the Housing Minister had vowed to unveil his plan before the end of September, but on the last day of the month it is yet to be seen.

“We were promised, the people were promised, a scheme and a plan for affordable housing,” Ms McDonald said.

“We were promised we’d see it in September, we have not seen it yet. And to judge by your response, Taoiseach, I can only conclude there is no such plan, that no such scheme exists.

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“This policy of ‘manana, manana’ and putting everything on the long finger seems to be one of the hallmarks of your chaotic Government.

“But that’s not good enough, Taoiseach. That’s not good enough for people who as we speak do not have a secure roof over their heads.”

The Sinn Féin leader said too many people are trapped in a rental market with “sky high prices”, and that is impacting on their ability to deal with Covid-19.

“If we ever needed a reminder of the importance of a stable roof over our heads, well then the pandemic has provided it because during this pandemic people’s homes have truly become our sanctuaries,” she said.

In response, the Taoiseach defended the Government’s record and said he agrees that a strong social housing programme is needed.

Micheál Martin added: “That is something the Government will be targeting and the Government will be identifying in terms of the estimates for next year and the budgetary framework.”

Mr Martin said Covid-19 had negatively impacted the building programme.

Mary Lou McDonald said too many people are trapped in the expensive rental market (PA)

He said the lockdown and the restraints brought about by the pandemic had resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in the number of houses being built.

Between 15,000 and 16,000 houses are due for completion this year rather than the 24,000 that had been expected.

But he said Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien had been “very quick off the mark” with the July stimulus, in which €40 million was allocated to bring 2,500 social housing units back into play.

“That money went out to the local authorities,” he said. “That was quick action which hadn’t been called on by anyone in the House.”

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