Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin criticises housing strategy delay
By Aura McMenamin
Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin has criticised the government’s decision to delay publishing their Vacant Houses Strategy, while the housing crisis continues.
The strategy, which was due to be published last month but has been pushed back to the autumn, will address the high number of vacant properties that could be renovated and used for private housing stock.
There are currently 183,000 vacant units across the country, with 3,495 in South Dublin.
The Housing Spokesman from Dublin Mid-West, criticised the Department of Housing, saying: “It is deeply disappointing that it appears that we will not have a Vacant Homes strategy in place until the autumn.
“Given the urgency of the housing crisis and the fact that there are over 183,000 properties lying idle across the State, it would have made sense for the Government to announce measures to immediately bring some of these houses back into use.”
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said in the Dáil last week that the strategy would be published after this year’s budget.
The strategy is one of the main pillars of Fine Gael’s Rebuilding Ireland plan which was created by previous Housing Minister Simon Coveney and is being continued by his successor Eoghan Murphy.
The Vacant Homes Strategy will create an Empty Homes Office to identify vacant properties and bring these properties back to use.
Under the ‘Repair and Lease’ scheme, property owners are provided with grant aid to renovate properties which are leased back to the State.
Local councils will also be allocated extra staff to assist, and penalties for owners of unused properties are also proposed.
O’Broin welcomed the decision to impose a tax on vacant properties, saying: “We welcome the fact that the Government is prepared to consider some type of Vacant Homes tax. It would seem it is moving towards the carrot and stick approach that Sinn Féin has advocated.”
However, O’Broin disagreed with the government’s decision to wait until after the budget to execute their strategy.
He said: “The Department of Housing has three very good schemes in place at the moment. They are just chronically underfunded.
“The Government, in tandem with the local authorities, can start compiling a comprehensive Vacant Homes register that will give them the data they will need if and when a Vacant Homes tax is introduced.”