herald

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Housing crisis to top agenda as Dail sits for a second time since election

Cruise Park Drive, Tyrelstown.
Cruise Park Drive, Tyrelstown.

Fianna Fail will try to turn up the heat on the caretaker Government today over the housing crisis, with a demand for an immediate 5pc increase in rent supplement allowances.

TDs returning to the Dail for the second time since the election almost four weeks ago will not try to elect a Taoiseach as talks about government formation drag on.

Instead they will debate last week's EU leaders summit on migration, and the controversial deal with Turkey, along with EU farm policy issues.

This afternoon the Dail is set to turn its attention to the housing crisis and the caretaker Government will get its first chance to explain issues like Tyrrelstown, where dozens of residents have received letters telling them they will have to vacate their homes once their leases run out.

When the new Dail first met on March 10, Sinn Fein and the Anti-Austerity Alliance - People Before Profit group angrily and unsuccessfully demanded a debate on the future of Irish Water and the crisis of homelessness.

There will be no surprise if they try today to insist on a full debate on the embattled water utility, again testing new Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail, with some acrimonious exchanges expected.

Fianna Fail welfare spokesman Willie O'Dea said he will be calling for an emergency 5pc rent allowance increase to help alleviate people's suffering and anxiety until promised building programmes can be delivered.

Measure

"I am calling for a 5pc rent allowance increase as a temporary measure until the building programme of ­whatever Government is in office is completed," he said. "This is vitally important to prevent more ­people becoming homeless."

Mr O'Dea said the traditional objection to a rent allowance increase was that it would drive up rents even further.

However, he argued this would not be the case now with the two-year rent freeze in place and the caretaker Government could increase the rent cap.

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