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Order of Business

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Senator Catherine Ardagh

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I welcome the motion to be taken this evening and the opportunity to debate the terms of reference of the tribunal of inquiry into the Garda. This is one of the biggest matters that has been before the House. It is important that the inquiry commences and that its terms of reference cover all the allegations. The information needs to come out into the public domain. It is important that the truth comes out for the families involved and that they get the justice they ultimately deserve. How they have been treated is appalling. The gardaĆ­ involved also deserve to have the truth come out because their reputations have been stained. There are many hardworking gardaĆ­ who need to be protected. The truth will come out from this tribunal of inquiry and everyone will be protected.
October last year was the first occasion on which I voiced my concerns about the first-time buyer's grant. At the time, I stated it would not help people get on to the property market and would only increase the prices of new builds. In 2016, house prices rose by over 8% nationwide and by over 5% in Dublin. Today, a report from the ratings agency Standard & Poor's indicates that house prices are set to rise by a further 7% this year, with the Government's help-to-buy scheme playing a massive part in boosting demand.
Boosting demand will not solve the problem. The problem is supply. The severe lack of housing supply is one of many issues the Government has ignored for way too long. There are many actions the Government can take to increase supply, such as looking at construction standards, architect approvals and building regulations for new builds, as well as the vacant sit levies and getting rid of the development levy. The Government needs to be more proactive in getting new homes built in Dublin city and at other locations throughout the country.
According to the Standard & Poor's report, the severe lack of supply could see houses prices grow more than expected as the number of new homes for sale has dropped to the lowest figure in ten years. Last month, daft.ie and myhome.ie reported that just over 42,000 properties nationwide were for sale on their websites in December 2016, the lowest since January 2007. These figures indicate that only around 1% of housing stock is currently listed for sale. A normal functioning market would typically boast a turnover of 4% of housing stock. I was shocked to discover there are only 3,619 properties listed for sale in Dublin. Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons believes that we need to build 50,000 new homes every year to deal with ever-increasing demand. In 2016, only 14,000 new homes were built. Although we are talking about this matter all the time, I have not seen evidence of any massive impetus or incentives for to builders to increase supply. This matter is the elephant in the room and we have failed to take it seriously. I will keep raising it until it is properly addressed.