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5 January 2016 Edition

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Housing Bill voted down by Fine Gael/Labour

Sinn Féin legislation hoped to curb extent of the housing and homeless crisis

• Fine Gael TD Catherine Byrne and Housing Minister Alan Kelly

Successive governments have failed to invest in homes, handing housing over to private developers, bankers and landlords

IN NOVEMBER, Sinn Féin brought a Bill before the Dáil that hoped to curb the extent of the housing and homelessness crisis that has grown over the past five years to envelop practically every city and town. The crisis facing families, tenants, householders and the homeless is nothing but a result of government policy. 

Successive governments have failed to invest in homes, handing housing over to private developers, bankers and landlords. 

This government has been no different than those that preceded it. The Government benches, packed with landlords, vote down any threat to their rights to rack-rents. All the while, they bring forward more legislation to weaken public provision of housing and encourage reliance of private tenancy. We cannot interfere with the market we are told, madness that way lies. 

We were told similar ghost stories about the banks.

Profit has been put before the needs of citizens, resulting in a property bubble and collapse, rising rents, increased evictions and house repossessions, unaffordable house prices, lengthening housing waiting lists and dangerous building standards.

The approach of Fine Gael and Labour has failed, and our people are paying the cost. 

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Sinn Féin is on the side of those homeless and those languishing on housing waiting lists, families struggling to keep a roof over the heads in the face of unfair mortgages and rising rents. 

Sinn Féin’s approach is that citizens have a right to a home. 

When Housing Minister Alan Kelly graced the chamber with his presence midway through the start of the two-day debate on Tuesday night, 2 November, he sneered across the chamber that Sinn Féin was “strong on rhetoric, but weak on action”. The minister conveniently omitted – eager to play the man not the ball as always – that the duty to enact legislation and serve the public good is the prerogative of Government, not the Opposition. Action, however, is not the strong suit of this Government. 

Catherine Byrne TD, the working-class hero of Fine Gael, pondered why families do not do more for homeless relations. She also claimed that many of those who slept rough did so by choice. 

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•  Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis ended his contribution on Wednesday with a fitting epitaph for the Government’s legacy in rent certainty. The only certainty that this Government has offered renters, he said, is that they will have higher rents before Christmas and that they will have even higher rents in two years’ time.

Government TDs slapped themselves on the back for coming to terms with the depths of the crisis by advocating building modular housing at 130% of the going market rate to buy a house! They even congratulated themselves for doing so much to help people insulate their homes. This came as cold comfort to the 1,500 children in Dublin who were faced with not having a house to call a home at Christmas. 

The Sinn Féin PMB tasked itself “to more appropriately address the needs of people experiencing homelessness; to bring the task of homelessness prevention within the remit of the Housing Act 1988; and to provide for rent certainty in the private rental market”.

The Dáil voted down the Bill 58-32. There are 166 TDs.

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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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