7 December 2015
By Tom O’Sullivan
Sinn Féin General Election candidate, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, has stated that the new Sinn Féin policy on Housing represents a bright new vision for Housing in Ireland. Cllr Ó Laoghaire, who was actively involved in the drafting of this policy, was speaking at today’s launch of the policy in Cork.
“This is, I believe, the most comprehensive policy statement on Housing, any party in this state has produced in many many years. No Party takes Housing as seriously as Sinn Féin, and I was delighted to be involved in the drafting of this policy, and related Legislation recently.”
“It offers a serious commitment to investment, and a keen understanding of what is required.”
“We have a Housing Crisis of historic proportions. There at least 90,000 people on Housing Waiting Lists for up to 10 years, and some 15,000 here in Cork. There are 121,000 households in receipt of rental supplement, and 100,000 family homes in mortgage arrears.”
“Our challenge is not only to resolve this crisis, but to ensure that this situation, which has wreaked havoc on so many many families is never repeated.”
“We believe that what we are proposing offers concrete solutions for the difficulties that those in Mortgage distress are facing. It is welcome the Government has finally agreed with the Sinn Féin position of reducing bankruptcy to 1 year.
“However, those tens of thousands struggling with their Mortgages require much more. Sinn Féin would introduce legislation to empower the Central Bank to limit the interest rates that banks can charge. This would include a sunset clause if a healthier market emerges.”
“Sinn Féin would also put an end to the banks’ veto in cases where the family home is involved, would strengthen the role of MABS in advising and helping struggling homeowners. We would also conduct regular reviews of the Central Bank’s macro prudential lending rules in terms of rent levels and house prices”
According to Ó Laoghaire Sinn Féin’s policy would also deliver for the rapidly growing numbers in the rented sector, including students.
“The private rental sector is dysfunctional. It serves neither tenants nor landlords well. It needs serious reform. Some of the proposals in this document were included in the Bill Sinn Féin proposed in the Dáil last week. It would have provided a definition for at risk of Homelessness, ensured resources for those at risk, and would have provided Rent Certainty, linking rent increases to the Consumer Price Index.”
“I am deeply disappointed that the Government failed to engage with this, and voted it down, including Cork T.D.s Jerry Buttimer, Kathleen Lynch, and Dara Murphy. – it was a significant opportunity to deal with these issues.”
“Sinn Féin would also amend the Residential Tenancy Act to restrict the grounds on which landlords can serve notices to quit to provide for a greater security of tenure, introduce a more robust minimum standards regime and work to ensure standard rent rates based on Department guidelines.”
“For students, we would work with colleges and student bodies to plan suitable student accommodation on education sites, state subsidised through state financing and strategically address the issue of student accommodation in the longer-term.”