“Government are providing free houses – to the vultures and speculators!” – Matt Carthy TD
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, last week addressed the Dáil in favour of a Sinn Féin Bill which would ban rent increases over the next three years. Urging government parties to break with the failures of the past, he slammed the policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael which have provided huge subsidies to speculators and financial institutions rather than homes for ordinary workers and families.
Deputy Carthy said:
“When Leo Varadkar accused Sinn Féin of promising free housing, he exposed the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael ideologically driven agenda that lit the embers of the housing crisis and fanned the sparks, leading to the catastrophe we witness in every community in this State.
“This catastrophe means that most young people cannot even dream of ever owning their own home.
“I grew up in a council house. It was never a free house. Rent was paid in line with the income coming into the house. The State bought an asset and it was paid back in spades.
“Public house building was an investment that benefited all within society.
“Those who needed help were able to get it, those who wanted to rent were able to do so affordably and those who had relatively good incomes were able to purchase or build at a reasonable price with a good expectation that the property’s value would rise in a steady but stable manner.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments decided to change tack. Not because they were opposed to free houses; but because they wanted to make housing a speculative commodity.
“In fact, these governments did provide free houses – but they provided them to vultures, cuckoo funds and speculators.
“Last year, the Government handed €800 million in subsidies to private landlords. This year, the figure is set to top €1 billion. That is not even to mention the tax breaks, loopholes and sweetheart land deals.
“The Minister is providing free gaffs all right, but he is giving them to the very people who are fleecing our renters across the country.
“This catastrophe was a long time in the making. It will take a long-term strategy and policy approach such as that presented by Eoin Ó Broin to resolve it.
“Right now, we need proposals to help those at the coalface of the natural outworkings of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael policies. They are policies of boom and bust cycles, homelessness and out-of-control rent prices. Again, Sinn Féin is bringing forward the proposals that will make a difference.
“This Bill has been brought forward because it is what renters need. It is an opportunity for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Deputies to recognise the crisis of their making and the catastrophe that is visiting families the length and breadth of this State. This Bill is an opportunity to turn the tide and recognise, once and for all, that our renters need a break. It will provide that break.”
Following the debate Carthy highlighted that government approach to the housing crisis was out of date saying:
“The government have belatedly agreed to link rent increases to inflation. This is too little, too late. This would have been an effective measure if it had been adopted in 2017 when first proposed by Sinn Féin. At that time Fianna Fáil opposed the measure.
“Since then we’ve seen dramatic increases in the rental market that require dramatic action – a rent freeze.
“A rent freeze is only one element – with rents so high, renters need a break. That’s why Sinn Féin also propose putting a month rent back in people’s pockets through a refundable tax credit.
“The fact that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael TDs voted down the Sinn Féin legislation shows that they are still blind to the severity of the crisis”.