Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has described a scheme announced 12 months ago to assist first time buyers as a complete flop as just 74 applicants have benefitted from it to date.

According to a parliamentary reply received by Deputy McGrath, a total of 118 applications from first time buyers for a refund of DIRT paid over the previous four years have been received.  Of these, 31 are currently being processed and 74 applicants have received a refund of DIRT amounting to around €74,880. 13 applications have been refused.

Deputy McGrath commented, “It is now clear that the scheme to provide relief from DIRT for first time buyers has been a major disappointment. In fact it the outcome is an insult to the thousands of people who are struggling to buy their first home.

“A chronic lack of supply, exorbitant interest rates, the abolition of mortgage interest relief and the new Central Bank rules on deposits have combined to make home ownership increasingly unaffordable for young people. These are the real issues that the government should be focused on if they genuinely want to assist first time buyers.

“The announcement of the scheme twelve months ago was nothing more than a gimmick to distract attention from the escalating housing crisis. The scheme has not even managed to live up to its very modest expectations as previous parliamentary replies indicate that upwards of 10,000 were expected to benefit. In practice only a fraction of this number have availed of the scheme,” concluded Deputy McGrath.