Last week, it emerged that Minister Eoghan Murphy had written to a number of Local Authorities in Dublin threatening to take powers away from them if they did not do more to address the housing crisis
Last week, it emerged that Minister Eoghan Murphy had written to a number of Local Authorities in Dublin threatening to take powers away from them if they did not do more to address the housing crisis

A number of local representatives have reacted strongly to the Housing Minister blaming them for a lack of progress in dealing with the housing crisis.

Last week, it emerged that Minister Eoghan Murphy had written to a number of Local Authorities in Dublin threatening to take powers away from them if they did not do more to address the housing crisis.

His stance was backed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Fine Gael thinkin. The Taoiseach singled out South Dublin County Council, saying: “South Dublin County Council, for example, the largest party on that council is Sinn Féin.

“A lot of councils are dominated by left-wing parties and they have a role to play too.

“It shouldn’t be about blame, it should be about solving the problem and we need those local authorities, those Sinn Féin and left-wing members of local authorities getting their councils to CPO derelict properties.”

Local TD and Sinn Fein Housing Spokesperson Eoin O Broin hit back at the Taoiseach’s claims.

He said: “In both South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council where Sinn Féin is the largest party, it is Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Councillors who are trying to block council housing.

“Earlier this year when Sinn Féin Councillors tabled amendments to the Clonburris Strategic Development Zone, which would ensure all public land would be used to deliver up to 3,000 social and affordable houses, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil councillors voted against the amendment.

“Thankfully, the progressive majority on the council ensured the motion was passed.”

People Before Profit councillors Madeleine Johansson and Emma Hendrick released a joint statement urging Minister Murphy to “stop the blame game” and called on him to declare a national emergency on housing.

Cllr Dermot Looney (SD) told Dublin Gazette he thought the Taoiseach’s comments blaming leftwing councillors were “pathetic”.

He said: “It doesn’t hold up to any scrutiny whatsoever and it’s just the game of politics where we’re trying to deal with real situations involving people in desperate need.

“We have constant reference from Fine Gael Ministers, including Taoisigh, over many years saying there is no quick fix to housing, it can’t be solved overnight.

“They haven’t even really begun to get to grasp with the issue at all.

“What we have needed is a radical programme of house building, radical control of the rental market, and we haven’t got that from them.”

Cllr Looney added that he felt Fine Gael were attempting to “muddy the waters” ahead of next year’s local elections.

“The reality in South Dublin is you have left wing councillors in general, and in fairness most of the councillors as a whole, pushing for greater social housing.

“The Fine Gael group have shown no interest whatsoever with regard to social housing.

“They haven’t even bothered to put a member of the Housing Strategic Policy Committee of the council, which is pretty unheard of.”

On Monday, Minister Murphy tweeted a statement defending his actions.

He said: “I’ve spent the last 14 months defending and promoting the great work that some local authorities are doing when it comes to building new homes.

“It’s great to see them defending their own record and people recognising their work.

“But my letter wasn’t about that – it was about the fact that we have an unacceptable level of families in hotels and some Councils are still not doing enough about that.

“The relevant Councils should be focusing on putting a plan together, not criticising me for demanding that they do more. “I understand the strong reaction, because what I’m proposing is unprecedented. But that’s just how serious this crisis is.”