Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment Barry Cowen TD has hit out at Minister Alan Kelly for knowingly overstating the number of homes the Government plans to build under its housing strategy. Emails between the Departments of Environment and Finance admit that the Government has been “spinning” the figures.
Deputy Cowen commented, “This government has been obsessed with spin since they were elected in 2011. Now this culture appears to be seeping into the civil service. This is a very serious development and needs to be addressed at Secretary General level. There has always been a proud history within the Irish civil service of being apolitical and this should not be allowed to change under this government.
“Reports today confirm an email was sent from one senior civil servant to another in Minister Alan Kelly’s department. It states “we have been spinning” that there is sufficient land with planning permission for 46,000 units across Dublin, before revealing that “the reality” is that the real figure is closer to 30,000 units.
“There is no doubt that Minister Kelly is under pressure to deliver on this housing strategy as the number of families in emergency accommodation has risen steadily despite promises to address the crisis. One of the cornerstones of that plan was the construction of tens of thousands of additional housing units. Now we learn that those figures have been overinflated, and that there is not even planning permission for many of the proposed builds.
“The Environment Minister needs to explain why he promised 46,000 units for Dublin when there was only planning permission for 30,000 units. Was he trying to deliberately mislead the public, or was it a case that he was not given the proper information by civil servants in his department?
“This is an extremely serious issue, not only because it appears as if the Minister was overinflating the figures to curry favour with the public, but also because the civil service appears to have been used to fudge the numbers. The Minister must clarify the issue without delay”.