13 September 2000 Edition

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Housing policy ``a catalogue of failure''- Ó Caoláin

Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the Government's housing policy is exposed as ``a catalogue of failure'' by the latest report from the National Economic and Social Forum. The Cavan/Monaghan TD described the Taoiseach's response to the report blaming the lack of housing on a labour shortage in the building industry as ``a lame excuse''.

Ó Caoláin said: ``The NESF Report clearly shows that this government has neglected those most in need of housing - the tens of thousands on local authority waiting lists. Its policy has been biased in favour of the private sector, from which more and more people are being excluded.

``The Taoiseach has responded by blaming all this on a labour shortage in the building industry. This is a lame excuse. When unemployment rates were much higher, this government and previous governments failed to give the local authorities the necessary funding to provide homes. In fact, they allowed the stock of local authority housing to diminish.

``The construction industry is now concentrating on building hugely profitable housing for the wealthy while those on average and below average incomes are again left out in the cold.

``The government must act immediately to implement the NESF's recommendations to establish a National Housing Authority and to greatly increase the level of local authority housing provision. The government must address the chronic shortage of planners and other officials in the local authorities. It should also support the call today from the General Council of County Councils for a fairer immigration policy to allow foreign workers to come to Ireland and work in the building industry.''

An Phoblacht
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