Cork TD calls for enlightenment period in public housing construction

8 July 2020
By Elaine Murphy

Speaking on the Labour Party motion on rent and mortgage debt, Cork East TD Seán Sherlock called for an enlightenment period in regard to public housing construction under the new Government,

Said Deputy Sherlock:

“We are now in what I call a dark age in terms of public housing projects in this country. From the 1930s to the 1950s there was massive State intervention in respect of public housing build in this country. This was done because there was a will to do it. At the heart of the motion before us is the supply of housing as the ultimate goal and, in the interim, protection for renters and the introduction of a State support scheme to ensure nobody is put out on the street such that we do not further exacerbate the homelessness crisis that we have seen in this country to date.”

“ We need an enlightenment period in regard to public housing construction. The Labour Party will support any measures that are appropriate in that regard. What we want to see from this Government on that journey is real interventions and not only rhetoric. While we all have partaken in rhetoric, it is important now, more than at any other time in our history, that we put in place a programme of public housing construction such that we can alleviate the need for measures such as income supports for those who are renting. To date, 1,300 people within this State are awaiting rent supplement. Whether we like it or not that rent supplement will go into the hands of private landlords. The model we have built up in this country is perverted and we need to deconstruct it.”

“We need a public housing programme. As other speakers have said, it is a supply and demand issue. We need a public housing programme to ensure that we meet that supply and demand. Thus far, I have served as a Deputy for 13 years. The number of people coming to see me who are on social housing lists is ever growing. It is utterly depressing that in this modern republic we cannot build houses for people. We will hold the Minister to his word. We will give him a fair chance and a fair crack of the whip. The Minister said earlier that he wants local authorities to get back to building houses. If that is the case, let us give him a fair crack at that whip. I contend that the model needs to be wider. The local authorities need to be key stakeholders but delivery should not be left to only them. There is a loss of corporates memory in regard to how local authorities built houses. Local authorities have not been involved in house building for a long time. We need to develop a model that regardless of our political persuasions we can buy into and support. We need this to be a non-partisan issue and an issue about young people. These are the very people who are losing hope daily that they will never own, occupy or have fixity of tenure in a house so that they can support themselves and their families.”

“The time for a radical programme is now. Even in the midst of this Covid crisis now is the time to put our shoulders to the wheel.”

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