Ireland doesn't have enough one-bed apartments for single people, the Tánaiste has claimed.
It comes as latest figures show fewer people aged under thirty are buying their own home.
An analysis by the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland shows 24% of mortgages for first-time buyers were drawn down by people under-30 in the first half of this year.
That compares to 60% by under-30s in 2004.
In the Dáil, Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns highlighted those figures and argued Ireland is “no country for young people”.
She said many young adults are stuck living at home due to high rents, unaffordable mortgages and the rising cost of living.
She blamed the current and previous governments for the situation.
Addressing the Tánaiste, she said: “Why should young people have any faith in your Government?”
In response, Leo Varadkar criticised left-leaning opposition parties’ stances on housing.
He said: “It is disappointing to see so many people - including people from your own party - objecting to new homes being built… because they’re one-bed apartments.
“Surely you know how many young people are single. One of the changes that has happened in our society is people tend to form households later in life… staying single for longer.
“There are so many single people in society. One of our biggest deficiencies in housing supply in Ireland is we’re a country of three-bed homes and don’t have enough one-bed homes.”
"Surely you know how many young people are single?" Ireland doesn't have enough one-bed apartments for single people according to Leo Varadkar. This came after TD Holly Cairns stated that Ireland is “no country for young people” when it comes to home ownership. pic.twitter.com/Yd42DyIysj
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) November 25, 2021
He insisted the Government’s policies are aimed at ensuring home ownership becomes a reality for people in their 20s and 30s.
He also claimed a “government of the left” would take away the help-to-buy scheme.
Deputy Cairns responded by saying it’s “very telling” that the Tánaiste responded to her Dáil questions by “trying to slate the Social Democrats”.
Meanwhile, the Tánaiste also defended the Government’s planned Shared Equity Scheme, despite the Central Bank saying it will push up house prices in the short term.
The scheme will allow the Government to offer loans of up to 30% of the cost of a home to prospective buyers on top of their mortgage.
The Central Bank has given the go-ahead for the controversial proposal, but said it will likely push prices up further initially.
Mr Varadkar said: “The reason we support the scheme, as only one element of our housing policy, is that it will allow people who are currently renting to become homeowners for the first time.
“To me, anything that enables people who are trapped renting to become homeowners for the first time - often paying a mortgage that’s less than the rent they’re paying - is a positive development in my regard.”