11 February 2016

Speaking at Labour’s plan for Housing, ‘Making Homes Affordable’ launch in Limerick this morning:


“Minister O’Sullivan, Friends, Colleagues,

Thank you for being here to launch our housing policy document.

I just want to start by stating the Labour party has always historically prioritised the building of social housing. Every time Labour have been in Government, major housing schemes have been initiated although they have usually been completed by the following Government. This is a cycle we can change in this election.

Labour in Government has started the process of recovering our economy and society, but as housing was one of the most damaged sectors during the bust, it is taking much longer to fix it than some others. That, combined with economic growth, means demand for housing has increased more significantly than the sector has been able to respond.

There is no instant solution to the housing issues we face as a country. Building houses takes a two to four year process depending on the scheme concerned. In 2015, we funded the delivery of 13,000 housing units or sets of keys to people on the housing waiting lists. In 2016, we intend to bring that to 17,000.

Right now, over 5,000 social homes are under construction and in the last year, over 420 local authority staff have been added to housing sections all around the country. We have to walk before we can run, but I firmly believe that local authorities in Ireland can return to the construction of 10,000 units per-year by 2020.

But the problems in private housing are equally as acute as those in social housing. In fact, the social housing recovery has returned at a quicker place than the private housing recovery. We in Labour welcome the central bank’s rules and that they are active in this sector when they were missing in the past. These policies will stem runaway speculation of house prices.

However, because they are being implemented during a time of a housing shortage, more and more people are being caught between saving for a deposit and trying to keep up with rising rents.

That is why Labour will,

  1. Establish a ‘Save to Buy’ scheme through a savings account run through the post office network.

  2. Provide €300 million to develop affordable rental housing – for those not on the housing lists but spending too much of their income on rent

  3. Establish a Private Rental Commission – Along the lines of the Low Pay Commission to set the appropriate regulatory regime for both renters and landlords from 2019 onwards to improve security of tenure and housing supply for landlords

  4. Continue with innovative approaches to tackling homelessness and fund the immediate delivery of 500 Rapid delivery Units specifically for those living in hotel emergency accommodation.

  5. Reform NAMA into a Land Development Agency for better long-term management of land.

  6. Ensure Local Authorities are building 10,000 social homes a year by 2020 as part of a package to deliver 110,000 social housing units.


Affordability is the key theme for the Labour party and for housing policy in general. There are tentative signs of a housing recovery, planning permissions are up, completions are up and commencements are up. But we need much more. The sector is only beginning to stabilise, but an affordable home for all is a very real possibility if Labour are given another chance by the people to be in Government.”




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