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10 May 2007 Edition

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Proposals for major government-led housing programme

Dessie Ellis,  Joanne Spain and Arthur Morgan

Dessie Ellis, Joanne Spain and Arthur Morgan

Sinn Féin launched proposals for a major government-led housing programme on Wednesday which the party said it was committed to delivering in government.
Party Environment spokesperson, Louth TD Arthur Morgan was joined at the launch by Dublin City Councillor and general election candidate for Dublin North West, Dessie Ellis and Joanne Spain, candidate for Dublin Mid-West.
Arthur Morgan said a real debate was needed about the issues in the general election, something that had been entirely absent for the first ten days of the campaign.
“One of the key issues of concern to many people is the lack of social and affordable housing, something that has not been addressed by any of the other parties who are masking their lack of policies with a sole focus on stamp duty.
“The reality is that any reduction in stamp duty will be immediately nullified as developers would push up house prices by the same amount and leave buyers no better off or indeed worse off”, Morgan said.
“It is time that housing policy was changed radically from one driven by developers and speculators to one led by the government in the interests of the people”, he said.
“There are over 40,000 households on the local authority waiting lists in this State. This does not take into account the tens of thousands who do not put their names on the list because they know that they have no chance whatsoever of being allocated a local authority home as the volume being built is so small and only the most needy have a chance of being housed. At the same time there are an estimated 230,000 vacant properties in this State”, Morgan said.
“The Fianna Fáil/PD Government virtually eliminated local authorities from the provision of housing. Statistics out this week show that of almost 100,000 homes built last year, only 2,700 were ‘social and affordable’”, Morgan said.
The Louth TD said that since the government caved into property developers and introduced the get out clause in Part V of the Planning Act – little to no affordable housing is being built. Those that are, he said, are far from affordable – houses are being put up for sale in Dublin, labelled affordable but costing €345,000’, he said.

Remove ‘get out clause’ for developers
Morgan said that in government Sinn Féin would implement a major government-led housing strategy and give local authorities a lead role in providing housing.
“We will deliver 14,000 houses a year over the lifetime of the Dáil and remove the get out clause for developers in the affordable housing scheme. Significantly increasing the number of local authority houses built is the best way to provide affordable homes while maintaining employment in the construction industry.
“We will also implement proposals to eliminate street homelessness by 2010 and legislate to ensure services such as public transportation, healthcare centres, childcare centres and schools are incorporated into all housing schemes.
“To ensure that all of this can be delivered we will establish a Department of Housing with a full minister”, Morgan said.
Councillor Dessie Ellis welcomed guidelines issued by Dublin City Council in relation to increasing the size of apartments in the city by up to 25% and to reduce the number of one-bedroom units allowed in each development.
“The guidelines issued by Dublin City Council are very welcome and are essential if we are to facilitate families who want to live in apartment accommodation. In government Sinn Féin would bring forward legislation to improve the standard of housing and apartments including increasing the minimum size of one bed and two bed apartments, increasing the ceiling height, ensuring that balconies are recessed into apartment space and ensuring that social and affordable housing is built to the same standard as private housing in the same development’, Ellis said.

 

In government Sinn Féin will:

  • Establish a Department of Housing with a full Minister.
  • Construct 70,000 new units by 2012 to accommodate social housing need
  • Amend the Planning and Development Act (2002) to require that all new developments must allocate 30% to social and affordable housing, with at least 10% social and at least 10% affordable housing.
  • Eliminate street homelessness by the year 2010.
  • Increase mortgage interest relief for first time mortgage-holders and principle home owners who earn up to the average industrial wage.
  • Introduce a tenants’ rights charter.
  • Require all new social housing to be fitted with energy-efficient alternative energy sources.
  • Reform the planning laws to support the right of rural dwellers to build on their own land or to purchase and build locally.
  • Legislate to ensure services such as public transportation, healthcare centres, childcare centres and schools are incorporated into all housing schemes.
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