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Taoiseach, SF in Dáil exchange over housing affordability

The Taoiseach has accused Sinn Fein of trying to create a “false impression” around housing affordability in Ireland.

Referring to a recent survey which found that a couple trying to buy an average new three bedroom house in Dublin would have to earn €127,000, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson for Finance Pearse Doherty said it was “totally demoralising” for those seeking to get on the property ladder.

However, Leo Varadkar said that the survey did not take into account of a number of Government initiatives to help first-time buyers.

He told the Dáil that the survey did not take into account that first-time buyers can now borrow four-and-a-half times their annual income.

He also said that initiatives such as the First Home Scheme have helped to close the affordability gap.

Mr Doherty told the house that many young people are forced to emigrate and that prospective buyers are “locked out” of the market.

However, Mr Varadkar said that while 80,000 people left Ireland in the last three years, 90,000 returned.

He said that that cities in countries such as Australia had similar house prices to Ireland.

Mr Doherty asked how many affordable homes the Government delivered last year.

Mr Varadkar said that such figures are not available yet.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party called for better protection for renters who are living in poor quality accommodation.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik requested that the Government pass her party’s ‘Renters Rights’ Bill.

Mr Varadkar said there was a need to focus is on making the Residential Tenancies Board better at enforcing laws that already exist, which would be of benefit to both renters and landlords.

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