Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson Barry Cowen TD has questioned the hasty refusal of Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and his colleague Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to properly consider proposals for the construction of more affordable homes.
His comments come following the Minister’s hasty rejection of temporary reform of VAT rules on the purchase of new homes below an affordable price level and the ongoing failure of the Government to act on the commitment to make credit in the Credit Union movement available for building homes.
Deputy Cowen commented, “We are in the middle of an acute housing crisis in this country. Every political party has an obligation to apply its best efforts to bring forward policies and use their mandate to try to address this crisis. For our part, Fianna Fáil has brought forward a range of proposals aimed at increasing the volume of social housing, but also increasing the stock of affordable housing for those who are trying to buy their own home. By contrast, Fine Gael continues to attempt to simply sit out the problem.
“One of those proposals was to temporarily reduce VAT on the purchase of affordable homes. In bringing forward this proposal we sought specific costs but were told by the Department of Finance that such information was not available at this time. The absence of such information begs the question of Paschal Donohoe and Eoghan Murphy, what information are they using in immediately dismissing the idea? In the absence of research on the cost and benefit of this policy, on what basis are they refusing to even consider it?
“The bigger question however is, where are the Government’s alternative ideas? Paschal Donohoe and his colleagues are sitting atop the biggest housing crisis in generations, causing misery for thousands of families across the country. They are sniping at political opponents and dismissing the analysis and ideas of others, but what are they actually doing to deal with the issue? In their own Rebuilding Ireland report, the Government pledged to look at releasing credit in the Credit Union movement to aid the house building effort, but there has been zero visible progress in this area either.
“Eoghan Murphy is continuing the practice of Simon Coveney and the Labour Party’s Alan Kelly before him, where endless PR initiatives and ‘action plans’ are mistaken for genuine activity or progress. The Minister may do a good job in claiming to feel the people’s pain, but he and his colleagues are completely paralysed when it comes to doing anything about it.
“We are long past the time when the Government should spell out their plans and take action. Their premature and unresearched response to our proposals on VAT reform only re-emphasise their complete absence of ideas on this issue.”