Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle Slams Minister For U-turn On ‘bonkers’ Co-living Plans

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, called out the Minister for Housing for commissioning a review on co-living when just last year, in opposition, he had called the initiative “bonkers”.

Deputy Pringle said: “Surely Deputy Darragh O’Brien, the minister for housing, local government and heritage in the 33rd Dáil, would and should use his power to undo this ‘bonkers’ policy?”

Deputy Pringle addressed the Dáil to support Sinn Féin’s Private Members’ Bill to Ban Co-Living and Build to Rent. He read from a July 2019 report in The Irish Examiner that quoted then Fianna Fáil party housing spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien, as saying co-living should be scrapped. Deputy O’Brien said, “If Leo Varadkar and Eoghan Murphy want this bonkers policy so much, they should co-live together,” The Examiner reported.

While in opposition last year, he was further quoted as saying, “Co-living units will have no effect on housing and they will push up the price of ‘normal’ apartments in addition to co-living ‘box’ apartments.”

Deputy Pringle said: “Does the minister not mean what he says or should we just disregard anything you said while in opposition? If the Minister had such strong convictions about ‘bonkers’ co-living units while in opposition, why commission a review when you have ministerial power?”

Deputy Pringle noted that the Minister for Housing in 2017 said that tech companies and businesses were asking for this option, “not renters, not young workers, not voters.

“Of course developers and construction companies want to build twice or three times as many units in any given development, to maximise their profits and in some cases charge €1,200 or €1,300 per month for a ‘unit’ the size of a car parking space.” He said co-living was aimed at a high-end, young, mobile, international workforce.

He asked: “How many of our googlers, facebookers, tech workers and others have returned to their home countries to work remotely during this pandemic?”

Deputy Pringle said Minister O’Brien was right the first time.

“While co-living was bonkers pre-Covid-19, it is certainly much more bonkers and indeed dangerous now. People have been asked to self-isolate and quarantine in their own homes, if they are lucky enough to have one. How do you propose this would be possible in co-living units? We have already been told that Covid-19 will be with us for many years and co-living will just exacerbate the problem,” he said.

Deputy Pringle said co-living will not address the country’s housing needs.

He said: “People need safe, secure, liveable spaces with all amenities available to them, and at an affordable price.”

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