Following another Oireachtas Committee where Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy failed to give straight answers on the volume of actual houses being built in the country, Deputy Barry Cowen commented, “There is a national emergency in housing and every effort has to be made at national and local authority level to address the shortage.

“There are still 100,000 people on social housing lists across the country and in addition over 5,000 adults and 3,100 children in emergency hotel accommodation. Everyone claims to share concern about these appalling statistics, but, despite the rhetoric, we still can’t get clear answers on how many units of accommodation are being built in this country this year.

“The Taoiseach has tried to dismiss people’s concerns about the homelessness emergency by saying our figures are low compared to international standards. This is a clear attempt to normalise the problem in the country’s mind and to provide a distraction to the substance of the issue.

“Neither I nor my party will accept the current situation as normal or acceptable. Instead we believe that more pressure should be put on the local authorities to show how they are spending the money that has been allocated to them to provide both social and affordable housing. This information is not available or transparent on an ongoing basis. We know for a fact that there are still vacant sites that are not being utilised across the country. This is not acceptable and the Minister appears to be unable to explain it.

“We need to end the Government spin and concentrate in a clear headed way on the actual delivery of social and affordable houses. Where there is not delivery and where local authorities are not performing or providing houses, despite the Government saying that money has been made available, we need to have a very straightforward discussion on why this is the case and who is responsible for that failure.

“Can unreasonable obstacles be removed? Can delivery be made quicker and can changes to the layers of bureaucracy be made to deliver homes on a much quicker basis? These are the debates we need to be having urgently, but we can’t do it in any meaningful way without real transparency about what is actually happening.

“I find it extraordinary that earlier today, at this stage of the crisis, I asked Minister Murphy for clarification on delivery and he could not provide the answers. This simply has to change and change quickly.”