Micheál Martin told Government plan for affordable housing ‘not working’

Micheál Martin Told Government Plan For Affordable Housing ‘Not Working’
Micheál Martin said that some of what Ms Cairns had suggested would reduce the supply of housing through “curtailing the market”.
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has insisted the Government’s housing plan is working to provide more affordable housing.

He said that progress had been made, but that the “fundamental” issue was that housing demand was still greater than supply.


He was responding to questions from Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns who accused him of “spin” on affordable housing supply during Leaders’ Questions on Thursday.

She criticised the Government, saying it had not met its affordable housing targets for last year, with 499 affordable purchase and 966 cost-rental homes delivered.



“That’s fewer than 1,500 affordable homes when the target was 5,500,” she said.

Ms Cairns said that people who were not able to afford rent or house prices had not failed, and that it represented a Government failure and a “shameful refusal to admit it”.

She outlined the “helplessness” people felt as their life choices were limited by the high cost of housing.


The Tánaiste said that every TD knew of the challenges and difficulties in being able to afford housing, and said there “is not a family in the country untouched by the crisis”.

Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns
Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns outlined a variety of policies on housing her party had called for. Photo: Maxwell Photography/PA.

Mr Martin repeated an assertion he made previously that it was “fine” to criticise the Government’s plan, but urged the opposition to show them a better alternative to fix the housing crisis.


He said the Housing For All plan was the most substantive plan to hit targets to build new homes, and that the highest number of homes had been commenced in March this year compared to any year since 2015 (4,900 housing starts).

“Ultimately, even though we’ve delivered 100,000 homes since 2020, it’s not enough. Demand is higher than supply, which is leading to a fundamental issue leading to price increases, and huge challenges for people.”

Ms Cairns responded that her party had offered housing alternatives in the form of amendments on affordable housing to the Government’s planning reform bill, which she said were voted down.

She also said her party had asked for a vacant property tax “with teeth”.



“Tánaiste, I don’t know, do you think that people believe you when you come in here and just say we don’t put forward any solutions,” she said.

“In the past few weeks alone, my colleague Cian O’Callaghan has put forward 255 amendments to the planning bill. The Government has just routinely voted them down. One of them was around zoning land for affordable housing.”

She outlined a variety of policies on housing the party had called for.

She accused him of “spin” on housing, which she said “is just something people are sick of and it solidifies the feeling that this Government is just in denial”, and said “at the core of this crisis” is affordability.

Mr Martin said that some of what Ms Cairns had suggested would reduce the supply of housing through “curtailing the market”.


He said that they had already “curtailed” bulk purchasing of homes through the planning laws.

Ms Cairns interrupted to say “it’s not working” across the Dail chamber, to which Mr Martin insisted “it is working”.

“It is working, and the evidence is there in terms of the fact that the vast, vast majority of house purchases in the country are by citizens,” he said.

“We’ve had the highest number of first-time buyers, the highest in years, on an ongoing basis. What does that tell you? It tells you that affordability is improving for quite a number of first-time buyers.

“We’ve doubled the number of affordable homes this year, and we will continue to increase the direct intervention by the State.

“It is not spin, Deputy.”

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