Sinn Féin has branded Darragh O'Brien ‘the worst housing minister in decades’.
The party’s housing spokesperson made the charged during a heated debate in the Dáil last night.
Eoin Ó Broin was speaking after his party set down a motion calling for a housing emergency to be declared.
Deputy Ó Broin said the declaration would force the Government to take emergency actions – and warned that without those actions, “the people will change the government”.
“Two-and-a-half years Minister. You’re out of time; we urgently need a change,” he said.
In response, Minister O’Brien accused Deputy Ó Broin of arrogance and insisted his Housing for All plan represented a “fundamental step change” in national policy.
He accused Sinn Féin of blocking housing development across the country.
“You continue to oppose housing developments right the way through this country and in Dublin alone, over 6,000,” he said.
“So, I do want to ask you that, whilst your motion is about semantics and it is a cynical approach, I want to know, what practical measures you will bring forward.”
The minister said he remains confident that 300,000 new homes will be built here by 2030.
The debate came as the latest Daft.ie report found that rents in Ireland have surged 14% in the last year.
The report found that the average property now costs €2,258 a month to rent – 120% more than when the market bottomed out in 2011.
Meanwhile, the property website noted that there were only 345 properties advertised for rent in Ireland at the start of the month – “by far the lowest on record for this time of year”.
The Taoiseach insisted the Government’s housing policies were “bearing fruit”.
“We have treated this issue as an emergency from day one in terms of the legislation that has passed and the initiatives that have been outlined and a lot of what we are doing already is bearing fruit,” he said.
“While a lot of people out there urgently need housing right now, many others have got housing.”
He said housing was “the single most urgent and important social issue facing our country” and claimed it has been his number one priority since he took office.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the “crisis in people’s lives puts that claim to shame”.
“The Government acts as if rip-off rents are a figment of people’s imagination and now the chickens of your inaction have come home to roost,” she said.
The Government submitted a five-page countermotion outlining what it said were its housing successes in response to the Sinn Féin motion.
A ‘Raise the Roof’ rally is due to be held in Dublin on Saturday demanding “affordable homes and rents that allow households a decent standard of living.”