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‘You should be ashamed’ - Doherty and Varadkar clash in Dáil over housing

A row has erupted in the Dáil after Sinn Féin said the Government should be ashamed of its reco...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.53 23 Sep 2021


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‘You should be ashamed’ - Doherty and Varadkar clash in Dáil over housing


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.53 23 Sep 2021


Share this article


A row has erupted in the Dáil after Sinn Féin said the Government should be ashamed of its record on housing.

It comes amid a severe shortage of student accommodation, with many resorting to hotels, B&Bs or couch-surfing to attend college.

DCU says it has received four applications for every on-campus bed for this academic year.

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In the Dáil, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty clashed over whether the Government is doing enough.

Deputy Doherty said: "Tánaiste, it's a ridiculous and unsustainable situation - but it has been a situation that has been well flagged to your Government and previous governments for many years.

"I believe this has happened because you have looked at homes as an investment... as a potential profit margin for investors or individuals... as opposed to looking through the prism of securing a roof over somebody's head."

He suggested people would have to "have a heart of stone" not to be affected by the stories shared publicly about housing problems - from families impacted by mica issues to the "nightmare" accommodation search facing many new college students.

The Tánaiste, meanwhile, said he's "very aware" of the housing crisis - suggesting Sinn Féin doesn't "have a monopoly on compassion and understanding" when it comes to stories about the impact.

Addressing Deputy Doherty, Mr Varadkar said: "You said earlier on the people on the Government benches should be ashamed - maybe you should ask yourself whether you should be ashamed too.

"Your party voted to increase rents in Northern Ireland in a pandemic... [Sinn Féin] never miss an opportunity to oppose housing here in the South."

In response, Deputy Doherty told the Tánaiste "a bit of humility from you would go a long way".

He also urged the Government to introduce legislation to prevent student accommodation from being repurposed to tourist accommodation.

Current estimates suggest around 10,000 students across the country are on waiting lists for student accommodation.

The Union of Students is holding a protest outside Leinster House calling for urgent action, and is planning a 24-hour sleepout to highlight the issue.

The union says the difficulties accessing a place to stay are worse than ever.

Main image via Oireachtas TV

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