The Government missed its social housing targets last year, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil.
Mr Varadkar also said the housing crisis is holding Ireland back as a country, economy and society.
The Taoiseach was responding to Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Wednesday, who said the target for new-build social homes last year was 9,000, which was reduced “quietly” in November to 8,000.
She said there was then a warning in December that only 6,500 units were likely to be delivered, “nearly 30 per cent below your original target”.
Ms Murphy asked Mr Varadkar what the point of the Government’s housing targets was when those for social homes have been missed “three years in a row”.
“You and your predecessor [Micheál Martin] continually claimed you’re prioritising housing but where is the evidence for that,” the Kildare North TD said.
“It can’t be found in your Government repeatedly missing its own targets, the record number of people in homelessness, record rents, record house prices, the record number of adults in their 20s, 30s and even older, who are living in childhood bedrooms and can’t afford to move out.”
Ms Murphy said people “desperately need hope” that the housing disaster can be addressed and claimed the Taoiseach’s record was “one of broken promises”.
In response, Mr Varadkar said the Social Democrats TD was correct and that the social housing target last year was missed, with 6,500 new homes provided.
However, the Taoiseach said this was still the “highest number of new social homes provided in Ireland for a very long time”. He said the Government wanted this figure to be much higher this year, closer to 9,000 or 10,000 social housing units.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach later clarified:
“Social housing statistics for 2022 are still being compiled and have not been finalised. While it is anticipated we will miss the original target for 2022, the final newbuild social housing figure will be much higher than the estimate of 6,500 provided in the DPER ministerial briefing and it is likely to be the highest outturn since the 1970s.”
Mr Varadkar also said the Government’s main housing target for 2022 was met and exceeded, as they had targeted the construction of 25,000 homes and that it was likely to be closer to 28,000.
He said the target for this year was to build 29,000 new homes and also wanted this to be exceeded.
The Fine Gael leader said housing was the biggest social issue that the Government and country was “currently grappling with” and affected people “in all sorts of different ways”.
“Whether it’s people who can’t afford to buy their first home, whether it’s people who are paying massive rents, whether it’s people in their late 20s, late 30s, still living in their childhood bedroom, it affects people in so many different ways and is holding us back as a country and holding us back as an economy and society as well, in my view,” he said.
“That’s why we’re determined as a Government to turn the corner on the housing crisis as soon as we possibly can and Housing for All is our plan to do that.”