Sinn Féin threatens motion of no confidence in Housing Minister over inflated new build figures

30,000 less homes were built than the Government had previously claimed

Sinn Féin threatens motion of no confidence in Housing Minister over inflated new build figures

Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated 11:30

Sinn Féin has warned that it will be forced to bring a motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister if he refuses to resign his position.

The pressure is building under Minister Eoghan Murphy after new CSO figures revealed his department had significantly over-estimated the number of new homes being built in Ireland.

The new figures show that around 53,000 new homes were completed between 2011 and 2017.

That is some 30,000 less than the Department of Housing had previously claimed.

It is believed the inflated figures are due to Government policy of calculating new builds based on fresh connections to the ESB electricity network.

Analysts have been warning for a number of years that the policy is flawed – as the connections include homes that are re-connected after being off the grid for two years or more – as well as farms, caravans and ghost estates.

The policy saw the new build figures inflated by around 5,000 homes every year.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said his party is not worried about triggering an election – and will table a motion of no confidence if Minister Murphy refuses to stand aside.

“We would be very clear in doing so [that we are] saying that this minister is not capable, is not competent, is not making things better and should go,” he said.

“If [Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar wants to bring down the Government and fight an election on that basis, that is his call.”

"Reckless"

Minister Murphy however has accused Sinn Féin of being "reckless" in calling for his resignation.

He said any no confidence motion will have nothing to do with housing.

“They are focused on personality,” he said.

“I am focused on policy and on progress – and progress is being made.

“Sinn Féin don’t want to admit that; they don’t want to accept the facts that we have – like from the CSO.

“They want to turn a blind face to that and they want to make these kind of populist charges.

“It is very reckless. In one sense it is typical opposition politics; if you can’t attack the policy, you attack the person.”

He said that he never counted ESB connections as brand new homes – insisting he was “always clear that they were a proxy and that it included things like vacancy.”

CSO figures

The CSO took a range of other data sources into consideration and spokesperson Paul Morrin said the results are far more comprehensive.

"ESB connections are the most comprehensive source and then we added that source from the census, from building energy ratings and from the likes of Revenue; from data on building controls etc.

"We feel we have got the most comprehensive analysis data available of those fragmented data sources."

Discrimination

Meanwhile, a new report from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is warning that single parents, young people and people with disabilities face some of the highest levels of discrimination when it comes to finding housing in Ireland.

The report, due to be released this morning, warns that young people between the ages of 18 and 34-year-old are six times more likely to face housing discrimination than people over the age of 65.

It also warns that members of the Traveller community are most at risk of facing homelessness.

Homeless crisis

The latest figures from the Department of Housing reveal that at least 9,652 people were homeless in Ireland in April.

However homeless agencies have criticised the Government’s decision to remove around 300 people from the figures after Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy claimed they had been wrongly classified as homeless.

It is the second time in two months that the Department removed people from the figures based on ‘categorisation issues.’

Sinn Féin is still considering a motion of no confidence in Minister Murphy over his handling of the homeless and housing crises since he was appointed.

The party has hired a mobile billboard to circle around Government Buildings, warning that the crisis is still getting worse.