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Mary Lou McDonald: Rents must be cut and increases banned

She referenced a photo of a four-year-old girl eating dinner from a plastic tray outside a Dublin soup kitchen.

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Mary Lou McDonald said rent increases should be banned (PA)

Mary Lou McDonald said rent increases should be banned (PA)

Mary Lou McDonald said rent increases should be banned (PA)

Mary Lou McDonald has called for rents to be cut and increases to be banned.

The Sinn Fein leader said the depths of the housing crisis have been “cruelly exposed” by the “shocking number of tents” in Dublin city centre.

She also raised the image of a four-year-old homeless girl, eating dinner from a plastic tray on the side of the street outside a Dublin soup kitchen, which emerged this week.

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A woman walks past the tents of homeless people in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

A woman walks past the tents of homeless people in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

A woman walks past the tents of homeless people in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

She told the Dail: “The heart-wrenching image that we have seen again of a four-year-old child sitting on a crate here in the capital city, eating her dinner on the side of the street.

“It’s not the first time that we’ve seen a child eating their dinner in similar circumstances and this I suppose is the sharpest edge of bad policy and of bad Government which has seen house prices go up and up.

“Indeed the CSO (Central Statistics Office) tell us that house prices in Dublin have increased by a staggering 96% in the last nine years.

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“These aren’t mansions by the way, these are modest family homes, and meanwhile extortionist rents continue to soar.

“This generation has had to put their lives on hold, they’ve had to curtail their aspirations, because Government continues to choose policies that make the situation worse.”

That image, that photo, is a very upsetting one, but progress has been made in relation to homelessness in the last 10 months.Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday, Ms McDonald called on the Taoiseach to intervene on behalf of renters.

She added: “We have to ensure that evictions remain banned for the foreseeable future.

“But above all we need to ensure that rents are cut and that increases in rents are banned.”

Responding, the Taoiseach said tackling the issue of housing and homelessness has been a priority for his Government.

He added: “That image, that photo, is a very upsetting one, but progress has been made in relation to homelessness in the last 10 months.

“Family homelessness has declined by about 42%, homelessness overall by 19%, but more needs to be done.

“Progress has been made in relation to homelessness, but we are determined to do more and to expand the Housing First programme, which has been effective in terms of reducing homelessness, for single adults in particular.”

He said 3.3 billion euro was allocated in the budget to start building “the largest social housing programme in the history of the State”.

Over the lifetime of the Government, this will result in 50,000 social houses being built, he said.

Micheal Martin also called on Sinn Fein to “stop opposing housing projects” and to build cross-party consensus on the issue.

He did not respond to questions on rent cuts or banning increases.

Ms McDonald tweeted following the exchange: “On the basis of his non response and evasion, I can only conclude that the Taoiseach does not believe that rents are too high, that rents need to be cut and frozen, that generation rent needs a break. Shameful stuff from the chaos government.”


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