Tánaiste claims Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty is ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character in Dáil housing row

Ceann Comhairle accuses Donegal TD of being an ‘arch strategist of interruption and heckling’

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty came under fire in the Dáil from both the Tánaiste – who accused him of being a “Jekyll and Hyde character” – and the Ceann Comhairle who said he was the “arch strategist” for “interruption and heckling”.

The rows erupted during leaders’ questions when Mr Doherty raised CSO figures showing house price inflation had accelerated, with prices now rising year-on-year by 7.3 per cent.

Mr Doherty said Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil had promised before the last general election to make 50,000 homes available at prices “less than €250,000.”

But asking where they were, the Sinn Féin TD said they did not exit. He said the price of a house in Carrigaline in Mr Martin’s Cork South-Central constituency had increased by €100,000 to €400,000 since 2020 when the Government took office.


The Tánaiste insisted that Fianna Fáil “was historically the party building houses through the decades and generations of this country”.

He said 30,000 homes had been commenced in the first four months of 2024 “and that’s hugely above last year’s figures”. About18,000 new homes were commenced in April, he said. “That’s 600 per cent over last year”.

And in the past 12 months construction had started on about 53,000 homes. “There is momentum,” Mr Martin added.

The Tánaiste said the Government was trying to create sustainability through the Future Ireland Fund, a sovereign wealth fund for future investment. But he said Sinn Féin had voted against it in the Dáil on Wednesday despite Mr Doherty telling Davy Stockbrokers that his party would support it.

He accused Mr Doherty of being a “Jekyll and Hyde character” in reference to the Robert Louis Stevenson novel.

“You’re Dr Jekyll to Davy Stockbrokers but you’re Mr Hyde when you come into the Dáil and I know which personality I believe in,” he said. “I don’t like house prices increasing at the rate that they’re doing and the rate has come down but not enough and the key to it is supply.”

Mr Doherty replied that the Tánaiste should “open your eyes, it’s accelerating. It’s increasing month on month”.

He said people were scratching their heads about the talk of houses costing less than €250,000. “Where are they because nobody can them anywhere. They’re not in Cork, they’re not in Donegal, they’re not in Dublin. You haven’t delivered them,” the Donegal TD said. “Your policies are knocking an entire generation out of home ownership.”

But Mr Martin replied that mortgage drawdowns had reached 26,000 in 2023 the highest annual level since 2007.

The Tánaiste said “most people like a bit of melody but with Deputy Doherty it’s cacophony all the way”.

When Mr Doherty interrupted and repeatedly called for answers, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl warned him that he would suspend the House.

“I know we’re at a certain point in the electoral cycle where people are getting excited. I know hostages have been given to fortune, but they’ve been given by lots of different people on lots of different sides,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

When Mr Doherty again intervened, the Ceann Comhairle said that “strategic interruption and heckling is no way to conduct an orderly debate”.

He added: “You know very well what you’re doing and you’re strategically heckling constantly.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times