Speech by Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Fianna Fáil Ard Fhéis

Published on: 01 October 2022


Speech of Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Fianna Fáil Ard Fhéis

October 1st 2022

A Chairde,

 

Nothing is more important to this country than tackling the housing crisis head on. After a decade of under supply, rents are too high, home building is too low and too many people can’t buy their own home. Too many parents and grandparents are worried about where their children will live. And far too many of our most vulnerable are without a safe, secure roof over their heads at night.

 

When the men and women who led this party first entered power in the 1930’s they embarked on a Golden age of home building. In spite of a backdrop of dark clouds of war and economic uncertainty they prioritised putting bricks and mortar in the ground to house our people. The slums that scarred our cities were cleared and the foundations of a generation of home ownership was laid.

 

The simple truth is that whenever Fianna Fáil is in power there are more work vans on the road, more cement mixers turning, more bricks being laid and more homes being built.

No other party has a record of getting Ireland building.

No other party knows how to get it done.

 

Housing for all

Today, once again in the face of global uncertainty, Fianna Fáil is undertaking the biggest state home building programme in our history. It surpasses even the tremendous ambition of the 1930’s.

 

Our Housing for All plan is the single largest investment in housing ever and aims to build 300,000 homes by 2030. It aims to eliminate homelessness by 2030 and breathe fresh life into vacant or derelict homes. It is a radical, realistic and fully funded plan underpinned by record State investment, which puts home ownership back at the heart of Irish life while helping those who need it. These are our best values and our finest traditions. Our plans embody them.

 

I know how hard things are in the housing sector today but Fianna Fáil in government is starting to make a real difference with a fundamental step change in housing policy. We now have

-         The highest home completions since 2008

-         The highest home commencements on record

-         The highest planning permissions since 2008

-         16,000 first time buyers over the past year

-         Over 20,000 more workers in the construction sector

-         Falling vacancy levels

-         The first ever affordable cost rental homes

-         The first affordable homes to buy in over a decade

 

But we need to and will do, much more.

 

I will use every tool in our armoury to get bricks and mortar in the ground for homes that working people can afford and support those without adequate shelter. To have a real impact this must involve pragmatic measures with both the public and private sector, the small builder and the bricklayer. We can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back. Fianna Fáil has always put pragmatism and delivery first.

 

A new era of Home Ownership

The core foundation of my policy is that I believe that owning your home is good for individuals, good for families, good for communities and good for the State. My wife and I were lucky enough to buy a home and start a family and it is a basic opportunity I want for my daughter growing up. A person earning a decent wage should be able to own their ‘small corner of the world’.

 

Each home should be a shelter from the storms of life and a launch-pad for its adventures.

 

That’s why I am telling this Ard Fhéis, and sending the message to our people that we are starting a new era of home ownership for this generation. 

 

To help accomplish that we are:

-         Building the first affordable purchase homes in over a decade with 36,000 new units by 2030

-         Extending €30,000 Help to Buy grant to 2024

-         Establishing the game changer First Home Scheme and extending it to self-build homes across rural Ireland.

-         Rolling out €50,000 grants to buy and refurbish empty and derelict homes across both rural area, towns and villages and our city centres.

-         Introducing a tax credit worth €1,000 for each individual renter in 2023 to help them with the high cost of rent

-         Setting out new guidelines to facilitate rural one –off homes. The rural right to build will continue to form the backbone of housing.

 

 

In addition to those measures to address the needs of vulnerable communities I am ensuring we build more social homes next year than ever before and will extend the Homeless HAP discretion rate to help those most in need.

 

Planning Reform

We require a planning system that is fit for purpose and facilitates enough homes for people to buy. In light of that I am reviewing and reforming the National Planning framework to ensure there are no roadblocks to homes where they are needed. I am also overhauling our planning laws to cut through red tape and delays with a new planning bill later this year.

 

 

Every home that is built should be fit to buy. To achieve that I am announcing to this Ard Fheis that I am abolishing the separate two tier planning standards for ‘Built to Rent’ apartments.

 

This means from the end of this year every apartment application in our country will be a single, build to buy standard and allowed to be sold, not restricted solely for rental.

 

If it’s good enough to rent, it should be good enough to buy. We need to level the playing field between home owners and investors.

 

I fully recognise that we require private residential investment in this country of around €8bn per annum to meet our housing targets. We are winning the argument against knee jerk populism that would deter that kind of FDI and end up damaging badly needed supply.  A single apartment standard will give certainty, level the playing field and still enable investment where it is needed.

 

Sinn Féin’s Fawlty Tower Economics

We all know of the scale of the challenge in housing but we also know of the cynical and callous exploitation of it by opposition parties. So let’s take a cold, hard look at the alternative.

 

The Sinn Féin alternative budget commits to delivering an additional 2,900 new social homes in 2023 above government targets. However their cost per unit make no allowance for inflation or the supply chain issues which have arisen as a result of the war in Ukraine.

 

Their figures are two years old! It’s just not credible for anyone to claim they can deliver more units, quicker and with less money.

 

It’s Basil Fawlty “Don’t mention the war” Economics.

 

In addition there is another enormous €300m black hole at the heart of Sinn Féin’s rent tax credit proposal. With 400,000 renters eligible, the SF proposal would cost at least €600m but they have only budgeted for half that. It’s an enormous and inexplicable €300m gap. It makes last week’s Tory budget look prudent and would end up leaving renters pocketing nothing but an empty promise.

 

Sinn Féin proposals are not costed or credible, they just don’t add up. The only thing that does add up in their proposals are the thousands of social and affordable homes they have cynically opposed across Ireland.

 

What is absolutely crystal clear though is their continued attack on Home Ownership.

 

The SF alternative budget abolishes three key supports for homebuyers’. SF wants to

·      Scrap the €30,000 Help to Buy grant which has supported over 35,000 home buyers

·      Scrap the new First Home scheme which since July has helped hundreds of people who are buying their own home and

·      Scrap the new Croí Conaithe vacant and derelict property grants of up to €50,000.

 

We know what they’re against but even they can’t count what they are for.

 

People deserve better than those false promises and cynical ploys. 

 

Conclusion

 

Instead of cynicism our republic wants optimism,

Instead of opposition our communities need confidence

and

Instead of fear our people demand hope in the future of housing.

 

Today I can say to you that there is more than just hope.

 

Cabhróidh Fianna Fáil le daoine a íocann cíos.

Cabhróidh Fianna Fáil le daoine atá ag iarraidh teach ar phraghas réasúnta a cheannach.

 

Cabhróidh Fianna Fáil le daoine atá ag fanacht ar theach sóisialta ón chomhairle áitiúil – tógfaidh muid níos mó tithe sóisialta ná mar a tógadh riamh in Éirinn.

 

Cabhróidh Fianna Fáil le daoine nach bhfuil teach acu ar chor ar bith.

Tá an plean “Tithíocht do Chách” ag obair.

 

 

There is a real plan and a strong, clear eyed vision for housing that captures both the best values of decency and fairness that define our country and the driving pragmatism needed to achieve it.

This means supporting aspiration and rewarding hard work while helping those who need it with real delivery. Housing for All embodies those values by putting Home Ownership back at the heart of Irish life and making sure we are putting a roof over everyone’s head.

 

Our party has a proud history of home building, even in the worst of times. Over a century of independence our country has proven time and time again its ability to rise to the great social and economic challenges of the day.   Fianna Fáil has been the tip of the spear in those efforts. We are at the forefront again in tackling the housing crisis. Our plan Housing for All is taking hold, is gaining momentum and is getting Ireland building again.

 

Let’s live up to that great tradition and re-double our efforts and our determination to get Ireland building and buying homes again with a new era of home ownership.

 

Go raibh maith agaibh.

Connect with us



News Categories