Ireland

Martin and Doherty clash in Dail over housing

Sinn Fein said the Government had ‘failed spectacularly’ on its housing policies.

Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaking at Government Buildings, Dublin as the Irish Government is to announce hundreds of millions of euro in funding for cross-border projects. Picture date: Tuesday February 20, 2024.
Cross-border projects Tanaiste Micheal Martin speaking at Government Buildings, Dublin as the Irish Government is to announce hundreds of millions of euro in funding for cross-border projects. Picture date: Tuesday February 20, 2024. (Niall Carson/PA)

The Government’s affordable housing targets are “pathetically low”, Sinn Fein has said.

During a heated exchange during Thursday’s Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said that the Government has “failed spectacularly” on home ownership, homelessness and affordable housing.

Representing the Government, Tanaiste Micheal Martin said Sinn Fein had “no substance” in the area of housing.

He was responding to Mr Doherty, who said that “runaway house prices” have surpassed rates seen in the Celtic Tiger era and have “locked entire generations” out of home ownership.

Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty
Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty

Mr Doherty said: “The only way this housing crisis is going to be brought to an end is with a general election, a change of government and a change of housing plan.



“Because all of the evidence shows that your policies are making things worse.

“Your affordable housing targets are pathetically low and even these low targets are not being met.”

However, Mr Martin said he disagreed entirely with Mr Doherty and said he had left out social housing figures.

He said 22,000 social housing units had been built between 2022 and 2023.

Mr Martin said: “I understand politically why you’re doing that, of course, because you’re approximating to the centre because you don’t really want change or you’re not radically approaching the issue at all.”

The Fianna Fail leader said Sinn Fein did not have a housing plan, adding: “You have a few pages stitched together.”

He said the opposition party would scrap supports for home ownership and increase taxes when inheriting a family home.

Mr Martin accused Mr Doherty of engaging in soundbites and said Sinn Fein did not “really want change”.

He said: “It is the oldest soundbite in elections: ‘Vote for change’.

“And I would warn people not to vote for the abolition of the Help to Buy scheme, don’t vote for the abolition of the vacant house grant or the derelict house grant.

“Don’t vote for the abolition of the First Home Scheme, don’t vote for abolishing key supports for first-time buyers in this country who want to own their own home.”

In response, Mr Doherty said there was a housing disaster under the watch of the Government.

He added that it was “clear” there would be no change from Mr Martin.

Mr Doherty added: “You talk about soundbites.

“It’s not a soundbite to say that house prices are running away.

“It’s not a soundbite for the 21,000 people who packed their bags and decided to go to Australia because they feel that they have no hope in this country anymore.

“It’s not a soundbite to point out the reality that an entire generation is locked out of homeownership.”

The Tanaiste replied: “And where the hell is your plan? You’ve produced nothing in four years. Three pages in a 52-page budget document, three pages on housing.

“Where is your plan, deputy? You’re all sound, noise and fury and you have no substance on any of this.”