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Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] These are people who are desperate to buy homes. If they could get mortgages, they would be cheaper than the rents that they are paying. There have been higher rents for seven or eight years now and they could be paying much less if they could get a mortgage. They are all going through this charade, being asked for this note, that letter, and the other form. That is what is going on in the real world while the Government just prances about the place, going on about this and that. It is just not good enough.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar While Deputy Martin is prancing about the place, wagging the finger and telling us off, we are actually doing things.

Deputy John Lahart: Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart Doing what?

Deputy James Browne: Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne Certainly not building houses.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne The Taoiseach is hoping for an election.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis The Deputies should not fall out with each other.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar We are doing things in the real world that help people to buy their first homes. We have helped 10,000 people to buy their first home through the help-to-buy scheme.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary There are 10,000 people in emergency accommodation.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The Taoiseach should visit a hotel in the city one of these days.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar We have helped 10,000 people. While Deputy Martin was wagging the finger, we actually did it for 10,000 people.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar When it comes to the Rebuilding Ireland home loan, 575 people have been helped to buy their first home-----

Deputy John Lahart: Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart What about the other 1,000 who have been approved?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----and 1,000 more have been approved, many of whom will go on to buy a home.

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Why did the Minister mislead the House on 19 February?

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I did not mislead the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar They have six months before the loan approval expires.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister misled the House. He said he was going to extend it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar When the Rebuilding Ireland home loan was announced, we said that the scheme would be capped at €200 million and would run for three years.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is wrong. He said that he was not going to wait for-----

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Notwithstanding the fact that the Opposition has falsely claimed that it has failed, it has actually been a real success. There has been enormous uptake-----

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Minister misled the House on 19 February in an oral response.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I did not mislead the House. The Deputy can check the record.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The Minister should put down his finger.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----and we now need to do two things. First, we must consider whether we can lift the €200 million cap. We must find the finance for that, by the way.

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy The Deputy should be careful.

Deputy Darragh O'Brien: Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien Why should I be careful? It is the Minister who needs to be careful.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The money will have to be found, as is always the case. Second, we must consult the Central Bank.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne All the Government is good for is high-vis jackets and hard hats. That is all.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Deputies should calm their jets.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Order, please, for Deputy Mary Lou McDonald.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald This morning the Society of St. Vincent de Paul published its Working, Parenting and Struggling report, which is an analysis of the employment and living conditions of one-parent families in Ireland. Its findings are an indictment of the Government's record on poverty prevention and alleviation among single parent families, many of whom are at work. The report finds that one in 11 working lone parents was living below the poverty line in 2012 but that number had jumped to one in five in 2017. The high cost of housing and childcare combined with low levels of income are making it impossible for families to make ends meet. The report finds that the living standards of lone parents in this State are among the worst in Europe. We have the second highest rate of income poverty, persistent poverty and severe deprivation among 15 other EU states. That is shocking. What is most shocking, however, is that the majority of one-parent families, the vast majority of whom are headed by women, are in work. These families are like others. They are people who get up at the crack of dawn but who still struggle and fail to meet their own and their families' basic needs. Our cost of living crisis is leaving hundreds of thousands of people struggling and living in fear of any extra financial burden like a car breaking down or a washing machine packing it in. These are people who work hard to provide for their families. They have a modest aspiration for a decent, happy life but they cannot plan for their future. How can they plan when they cannot make ends meet in the here and now?

Low pay, especially in the context of the soaring cost of living, is the real problem. Workers on low wages, in many cases in insecure employment, are being asked to find money to pay for extortionate rents, crazy insurance premia and crushing childcare costs. It is not good enough to brush all of this aside, as the Taoiseach does frequently, with the promise of a meagre tax relief at an ill-defined point in the future. These families do not need a handout but a hand up in the here and now. These are people who work and who want to continue working to give their families and their children a better life. What does the Taoiseach propose to do in the here and now to address the cost of living crisis that is crippling these families? When will he introduce a living wage?


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