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08th Apr 2023

Housing issues would persist “no matter who’s in government” says Taoiseach

Rory Fleming

Housing Taoiseach

The Taoiseach has blamed construction constraints for the slow rate of new housing builds.

“No matter who’s in government, those constraints will be there”- that was the message delivered by the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to Newstalk Breakfast on Friday.

Discussing the existing constraints which surround housing construction within Ireland, the Fine Gael leader was eager to make the point that in his opinion, these constraints would impact whatever party assumed power.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien have come under fire this week over the lifting of the eviction ban. (Credit: Rolling News)

In line with the general cost of living crisis being endured by the Irish public, the cost of building materials is also on the up. This fact, when coupled with the previous collapse of the building industry, is one of the chief culprits in limiting the supply of housing according to Mr. Varadkar.

Just last weekend, the Taoiseach faced large-scale protests over his government’s decision to lift the Eviction Ban, when hundreds of protesters marched through Dublin City centre to the gates of Leinster House.

Further negative press came over his newly-declared status as a landlord and squabble with veteran homelessness campaigner Peter McVerry, resulting in Mr. Varadkar enduring a challenging number of weeks on the housing front.

Fr. McVerry had this week accused the Taoiseach of overriding his Minister for Housing on the eviction ban. (Credit: Rolling News)

However, the recent criticism levelled at the Fine Gael leader didn’t prevent him from discussing these particular housing constraints, which have seen challenges such “a big increase in the cost of steel materials” arise.

“We have to redouble our efforts and do everything we can to speed up but there are real constraints”, Mr. Varadkar said.

“Unfortunately, I know people may not want to hear this but no matter who’s in government those constraints will be there”.

According to the Taoiseach, these constraints include projects getting stuck for prolonged periods in the planning phase, an issue he hopes to address thanks to the government’s new Planning and Development Bill.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Leinster House last Saturday to contest the lifting of the eviction ban. (Credit: Rolling News)

Going on to add that he too is frustrated with the pace of new builds within the state, the Taoiseach said that “what’s most frustrating for me is that it’s taking so long and if it was the case of signing an order or passing a law or signing a cheque, it would all be done, but there are real constraints”.

Also up for discussion was the contentious topic of the lifting of the Eviction Ban last week, to which Mr. Varadkar responded by saying the decision would ultimately have a net positive for housing supply and that extending the ban would only have made more landlords leave the rental market.

“The view that Minister (for housing) O’Brien took, which I supported very strongly, was that continuing the ban for longer would have caused more landlords to exit the market, thus making the problem worse later”, the Taoiseach said.

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