22 April 2017

Labour Housing spokesperson, Jan O’Sullivan TD, has welcomed the comprehensive debate on housing motions proposed by Labour Party members across the country.

The motions were discussed on the second day of the party’s National Conference in Wexford, today.

Deputy O’Sullivan said:

“Housing is one of the big issues of our time and I am delighted by the vigorous debate our delegates had on the topic this morning.

“While there has been much goodwill towards the Minister for Housing’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland Plan’, it’s becoming more evident that it is not delivering the homes that are so urgently needed.

“With 200,000 empty homes around the country, that’s 27 empty homes for every person in emergency accommodation, the promised Vacant Housing Re-Use Strategy hasn’t yet got off the ground. 

“Even in the worst of economic times, Labour provided the funding to bring 5,000 empty Council homes back into use.  Unused houses should be the first, easiest win.

“But we need construction too.  One of the first Bills the Labour Party put before the current Dáil proposed to implement the Kenny Report to make land available to Local Authorities at reasonable prices to stop land-hoarding. As demand exceeds supply, developers sit on land, in order to make more money, while prices go up and more and more people are stuck paying spiralling rents.

“That’s why we also proposed in that Bill to link rent increases to the Consumer Price Index and to strengthen security of tenure as proposed in the motion from the Jack Fitzgerald branch.

“The proposals made in this section are all based on Labour’s core belief in the right to a secure home.

“I support the motion to establish a Housing Policy Working Group, as proposed this morning.

“We will hold a Housing seminar in Dublin later this month, and have public meetings planned for Cork and Limerick, and other parts of the country. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience on solutions that work, not least from those with years of service on Local Authorities.

“I support the motion from Cabra this morning championing co-operative housing and others advocating affordable as well as social delivery and the reference to a responsible lending model and environmentally positive design in the Wicklow motion.

“This is not an intractable problem. There are way above the average number of unused existing houses, there is land to build on, there is money available to the state now (kick started through Brendan Howlin and Alan Kelly with a €4 billion fund).  What is needed is effective policy and we are not seeing that from Government.

“Their Help to Buy Scheme is driving up prices; our Save to Buy scheme, which would involve the state topping up savings for a deposit makes much more sense.  Our proposals to stop land-hoarding are vital and the sooner the vacant sites levy comes in the better.

“Finally, let us see an end to the hypocrisy that has other political parties calling, at national level, for the state to build houses and then objecting to developments on their own doorstep. Labour proudly supports integrated communities with good services, quality homes, public spaces and opportunities for all.”


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