Belfast Telegraph

Government condemned over ‘ludicrous’ co-living apartment schemes

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said it demonstrated the Government’s ‘mind-numbing lack of ambition’.

Brendan Howlin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Brendan Howlin (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Government has been heavily criticised in the Dail over its backing of “ludicrous” co-living apartment schemes.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said it demonstrated the Government’s “mind-numbing lack of ambition” on housing.

The criticism came after Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy was quoted in the Irish Times on Monday describing the prospect of co-living as an “exciting” choice for young workers.

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Eoghan Murphy (Niall Carson/PA)

At one proposed development in Dublin, 42 people would be required to share a communal kitchen.

During Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday, Mr Howlin described co-living schemes as “ludicrous” and an “attempt to normalise cramped living conditions and erode public housing standards”.

“The Minister for Housing has become an apologist for those who wish to push down the quality of housing,” he claimed.

“We are going backwards now. We are reducing standards so that people can live on top of one another.”

Mr Howlin said Mr Murphy’s backing of co-living proposals showed Fine Gael was “out of touch with the reality of the lives of the vast bulk of working people” who needed affordable housing.

In response Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said co-living was only one part of the Government’s housing policy and that it was important to put the developments in context. He said there could be “as few as half a dozen” co-living schemes this year and next year.

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Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

He added that the solution to the country’s housing issues did not lie in any particular model.

“We need new housing of all different types and sorts, and lots of it,” he told the Dail.

But Mr Howlin said: “The Taoiseach’s reply is just mind-numbing in its lack of ambition. If we had gone into government in 2011 with that attitude to the economic crisis, we would still be in the morass.”

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said Fine Gael deserved “a hammering” at the ballot box in Friday’s local and European elections for its failure to solve the homelessness crisis.

He claimed Fine Gael was a party of landlords and was “not going to act against its own class interests”.

“This Friday voters will have a chance to deliver a verdict on the Government’s performance on housing,” he said.

The Taoiseach said it was up to the people to decide who to vote for on Friday.

PA

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