Thomas Pringle TD

Thomas Pringle TD – Affordable Housing, Can This Government Deliver?

I would love to be able to say in five years’ time, if the Government lasts that long, that we are well on the way to solving the housing problem. Unfortunately, I believe this issue will not be solved in that time and we will be discussing motions similar to this one when that time comes.

Deputy Mattie McGrath stated, when discussing the committee on housing, that if words and paper could build houses, everything would have been fantastic as all the houses would have been built. The final paragraph of the amendment to the motion jumps out and deserves to be read out. It refers to avoiding “over-concentration of particular housing types in areas, by requiring local authorities to complete Housing Need Demand Assessments to inform the delivery of an appropriate mix of housing typologies to cater for the needs of disparate household types and sizes.” That statement certainly lives up to the description of the committee as it is rubbish.

Every local authority already carries out an assessment of housing needs. Why would they do another one, except to delay and ensure that things do not happen? Every local authority assesses the type of houses it needs. Donegal County Council, like every other council, can say how many two-bedroom houses, three-bedroom houses and four-bedroom houses it needs and in what part of the county it needs them. Why do we need all this? It can only be to delay, delay and delay.

It is a pretty serious situation. There are 1,600 people on the waiting list for two-bedroom houses in Donegal town. Donegal County Council is building 20 houses at the moment. At that rate it will take 80 or 90 years to deal with the list. That is an appalling reflection on the way housing has been dealt with in this country in recent years and, unfortunately, on the way it probably will be dealt with in the future. That can be repeated throughout County Donegal. I imagine it could probably be repeated throughout the country. That is an appalling and sad indictment.

Several Members have spoken about the properties available to rent on daft.ie as a way of dealing with the housing list. I tried that as well. There are no properties in Donegal town for rent on daft.ie. There are no properties for rent in Killybegs. In the entire county of Donegal there are 80 properties on daft.ie that are available to rent for less than €2,000 per month and 12 of those properties are outside Letterkenny. That is a county of 138,000 people. This is a huge crisis. It is not just a crisis in Dublin, Cork and Galway, but right across the country. Everywhere has been left behind. I do not believe that what the Government is doing will deal with it. That is the sad thing about it. The Minister can prove me wrong in the next five years. I hope he will. That would be powerful.

Tonight’s motion is about affordable housing. There is a motion tomorrow night that concerns housing lists. That is unfortunate. We should have started with houses and the need to make sure that council houses are developed and delivered right throughout the country.

The Minister has laid out his plan without any idea of what will be delivered. Earlier he said he would be launching some sort of housing programme in September. We will then see plans against which we can measure his actual success. Then we will see how he delivers for the people. As I said already, I do not have much confidence. The situation is very stark right across the board. While 1,600 people are waiting for houses in Donegal town, unfortunately they will still be waiting in five years.

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