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FF and FG fighting over tax cuts as housing crisis worsens

6 September 2017

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Speech by Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin at Selection Convention for Sen. Kevin Humphreys, Dublin Bay South Constituency, 7.30pm Wednesday 6th September.

Last weekend the mask slipped.

Fianna Fail demanding tax cuts – for builders and developers.

It's as though the last ten years never happened.

As though tax cuts can be a substitute for direct action by the State to build homes.

Imagine the difference that the State could make with the €240 million it would cost for these Fianna Fáil proposals

This is a party that has recently taken to calling themselves social democrats.

An Ireland for all developers and builders seems to be their new mantra.

And let’s remember that on this issue Fianna Fáil has a track record.

Last winter the Dáil debated measures to address the housing crisis introducing rent pressure zones.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael voted down our proposals on rent that would have capped increases at the rate of inflation and introduced area reference rents.

They voted down our measures on the supply of land and ensuring tenants can stay in buy to let properties.

Remember what Barry Cowen sought last year from Fine Gael.

He wanted a package of tax cuts for landlords.

So we have seen the sort of ideas that Fianna Fáil are contributing over the last two years.

Measures straight out the of centre right handbook – tax cuts to stimulate failed markets.

When it is clear that what is needed now is strong action by the State – to build the homes that families need, to ensure that people have access to both affordable and social housing.

That renters have secure tenures at affordable prices

That recognises that the market does not, and cannot provide all the solutions.

After seeing the negative reaction to Fianna Fáil's policy Paschal quickly washed his hands of it.

But Fine Gael are still pursing their own tax cuts

A number of kites have been flown over the summer on what would be in the Budget.

But nothing has been heard about the ongoing crisis in health and how it might be addressed.

Record trolley numbers of over 7,000 in August.

600,000 people on waiting lists.

The €220 million the Government plans to commit to a small tax cut in October would make a real difference in health.

It would ensure our health service is sufficiently funded to get us through the winter

Avoid another A&E trolley crisis in January, and start to make a dent on waiting lists.

There are real choices to be made in this year’s budget

And it boils down to choosing tax cuts or investment in housing and health.

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We continue to see a lack of action from Fine Gael on housing

Strategy after strategy, review after review.

Commitments made and then not met.

Jan O’Sullivan has for months called for action to bring vacant housing back into use.

And Senator Kevin Humphreys has consistently pointed out the problems with AirBnB rentals and has drafted a bill to address it.

We have the bizarre situation in Dublin where homes are used as hotels for tourists, and hotels as homes for families.

Over three and half thousand units rented out full time in Dublin – apartments and houses that could be homes.

And it’s because of work like this that we need to return Kevin to the Dáil.

A candidate who has proven himself on Dublin City Council, in the Dáil, as a Minister and now as a Senator.

A politician of substance, a proven worker and voice for his community.

A dedicated husband and father, who has always received tremendous support from Catherine, James and Claire.

So it’s great to see so many of you here tonight to support Kevin – Dermot Lacey, Mary Freehill, Ivana, and Ruairi.

Members old and new - We know this current Dáil is not fit for purpose.

When an election comes Labour will be ready.

This is our seventh selection convention.

We have many more to do, and we have leaflets to drop, doors to knock, people to convince and support to win back.

And I know that Labour will once again elect a TD in Dublin bay South.

We need Kevin’s energy, enthusiasm and hunger in the Dail

To hold Ministers to account, to put forward our policies and champion our positions

To speak up for those who have been left behind

To champion solutions, and deliver for Dublin Bay South, Ireland and the Labour Party.