The Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, must issue a public apology to homeless families, children and individuals. The Taoiseach’s dishonesty is breathtaking, and he and his Government are homelessness deniers. He deliberately and dishonestly abused an OECD report to deny and downplay the housing and homelessness emergency. The OECD report specifically states that its findings must not be used for comparison purposes. The statistics are not and never were comparable from one country to another. Into the bargain, the statistics are two years old. The Taoiseach must be called out on this issue and must do the decent thing and issue an apology.

Fr. Peter McVerry said today, and I agree with him, that the only solution to this problem of homelessness is to build social housing at a very intensive rate. It is quite obvious that this House and this Government are all talk and very little action. The Government is obviously not doing enough and will continue to put its faith in the private market, which has been a disaster for families. What will the Government’s coalition partner do about this issue? I refer to Fianna Fáil. Fianna Fáil’s hands are dirty on this issue and they are getting dirtier with every day. It has a supply-and-confidence arrangement with the Government and is keeping it in power. Fianna Fáil has a responsibility to sort out the housing issue once and for all and ensure that the Government builds large-scale local authority housing.

I will support the Bill but the hypocrisy of the Labour Party on this issue is monumental. It was in government for five years and has made the housing and homelessness crisis worse. During those five years, it held the housing portfolio at Minister of State and senior ministerial level and made matters worse.

It is now obvious that major demonstrations of people power will be necessary to ensure that this issue is solved and that large-scale social and affordable housing is built. I also call on the trade union movement to call a one-day general strike on this issue to ensure it is treated with the seriousness it deserves.

 

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