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23rd Sep 2021

Leo Varadkar told he sees “homes as an investment” during heated debate in Dáil

Clara Kelly

Leo Varadkar Pearse Doherty housing crisis debate

Earlier this week, Leo Varadkar said that “one person’s rent is another person’s income”.

Pearse Doherty has said that Leo Varadkar sees homes “as an investment” during a heated debate in the Dáil on Thursday, 23 September.

The Sinn Féin TD told the Tánaiste that people would need “a heart of stone” not to be affected by the housing crisis in Ireland as families impacted by the mica scandal in Donegal and college students struggling to find accommodation continue with their respective protests.

“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,” Doherty said.

“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.”

Varadkar hit back by saying that Doherty “thinks” he knows but “does not”, adding that there was not a person in the Dáil unaware of the housing issues facing the country.

Varadkar stated that Sinn Féin does not “have a monopoly on compassion and understanding”, saying that Sinn Féin “never miss an opportunity to oppose housing here in the south” and “voted to increase rents in Northern Ireland in a pandemic”.

Doherty replied by saying “a bit of humility” from Varadkar “would go a long way”.

The clash comes as Varadkar has faced backlash online this week saying that a “balance” was needed between the regulation of rent costs and landlord’s income.

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday when asked by Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin to support a three-year ban on rent increases, Varadkar said “the number of rental properties available in Ireland is falling”.

“Landlords are leaving the rental market and bear in mind that most landlords, and I’m not one of them, only own one property or two, 86% only own one property or two,” he said.

“So we need to balance that too, one person’s rent is another person’s income, it might be their pension, it might be how they pay their mortgage.”