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Sinn Féin stays opposed to Shared Equity Scheme

The Liberty spoke to Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin about the party’s opposition to the Government’s ongoing housing policy – and especially the plan that would see the State take a share in homes to help buyers afford them.

“We are absolutely against this scheme! It won’t make housing more affordable,” Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said, about the Shared Equity Scheme. “It will simply saddle working people with unsustainable debt by pushing up house prices.”

 “What [the Housing Minister] is saying about Sinn Féin’s housing policy is a lie.”

EOIN Ó BROIN

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien defended the scheme, which would allow the State to take on a 30 percent stake in the homes of eligible first-time buyers, in an interview recently published by The Liberty.

But full details of the plan have not yet been published – so how can Sinn Féin already oppose it?

“Darragh O’Brien leaks like a sieve and has released most of the details of the scheme to the public domain,” Ó Broin said.

“The scheme is modelled very closely on two lobby papers that were published in February and May of 2020 by two industry lobby groups, namely, Property Industry Ireland and Irish Institutional Property.”

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin (Photo courtesy of Eoin Ó Broin)

These lobby groups made detailed presentations to all political parties and the Minister’s scheme is “in line with those two policy papers”, Ó Broin said.

“Fianna Fáil have a long history of allowing large private developers to develop their housing policy,” he added.

Ó Broin cited allegations that the Central Bank and the ESRI have criticised the scheme, a claim denied by Minister O’Brien when he spoke with The Liberty.  

“Darragh O’Brien’s detractors, as he calls them, is pretty much everybody bar him,” Ó Broin said.

“Correspondence from the Central Bank clearly states that they are very concerned that this is a mechanism to circumvent Central Bank’s mortgage lending rules,” he added.

“We know the Minister of Finance, Pascal Donohue, is uncomfortable with this scheme,” Ó Broin said.

 The Liberty was unable to get any comment from the finance minister about his alleged discomfort.  

“A similar shared equity scheme had failed in easing housing issues in London,” Ó Broin said. “Research done by the London School of Economics at the end of 2019 showed that the scheme increased house prices in London by 6%.”  

Minister O’Brien has stated; “We are responding to some of those potential risks by putting in belts and braces around it, such as the regional price caps.”

Ó Broin disagreed with the Housing Minister’s suggestion that Sinn Féin would prefer a policy based only on public housing.

“What he’s saying about Sinn Féin’s housing policy is a lie. The Sinn Féin housing policy is not one sided,” Ó Broin said.  

“We would be delivering 4,000 affordable purchased homes at prices of €230,000 or less for a standard home every single year,” he explained. 

“Given that home ownership declined so dramatically when Fianna Fáil was last in government, I think it’s quite dishonest of Darragh O’Brien to suggest that they’re the party of home ownership. They’re not.” 

Ó Broin said that under Sinn Féin policy, he would need to “sit down and in a very short period of time develop, at a regional level, multi-annual housing plans with housing targets which the local authority and approved housing body could manage when it comes to our own housing programme.”

Ó Broin said Sinn Féin’s goal of 20,000 public homes was not unrealistic. “At the height of the Celtic Tiger 90,000 homes were built in a single year.” 

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