Ireland

Martin defends performance of Housing Minister amid accommodation crisis

Darragh O’Brien is due to provide an update on the Government’s Housing for All policy (PA)
Darragh O’Brien is due to provide an update on the Government’s Housing for All policy (PA) Darragh O’Brien is due to provide an update on the Government’s Housing for All policy (PA)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has defended the performance of his party’s Housing Minister as the accommodation crisis in Ireland continues.

There have been consecutive records set this year over the number of people living in emergency accommodation.

The latest figures from the Department of Housing indicated that 12,847 people were in emergency accommodation in July – a rise of more than 200 from the 12,600 recorded in the previous month.

The latest figures include 9,018 adults and 3,829 children.

Mr Martin was speaking on the second day of Fianna Fail’s think-in event in Tipperary, at which Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is due to provide an update on the Government’s Housing for All policy.

Mr Martin said there had been a population increase, and the coronavirus pandemic had slowed construction.

Asked about the performance of Mr O’Brien, Mr Martin said targets are being met, adding that housing completions have increased by 40% in the last year, with 30,000 new houses built, while first time mortgages have also increased.

“Covid did hold us back for a year and a half in terms of construction… but we are exceeding the targets in Housing for All,” he told RTE.

“There is a whole variety of schemes that have been developed in terms of affordable housing, in terms of cost rental, in terms of social housing with over 10,000 provided last year. So we’re consistently now in a position where over the next number of years, with over 10,000 social houses to be provided. That’s way in excess of anything before we came into office… and likewise there has been imaginative schemes around affordable housing.

Fianna Fail event
Fianna Fail event Tanaiste Micheal Martin (Niall Carson/PA)

“Then you have the investment, for example, in terms of dereliction and vacant housing, where you have very sizeable grants now for first-time buyers to try and renovate housing and so on.”

Mr Martin also contended the length of time people are spending in emergency accommodation is shortening.

He said: “The population is rising dramatically, which has created additional pressures, but there is momentum within the house construction sector.

“There’s no doubt completions and commencements have gone way up over the last two years. We have to keep at it because there’s certainly a significant challenge. It is the number one issue facing us as a country. But I think a whole variety of policies have been initiated. We have to keep at it and get housing completed.”