There is "no good public policy rationale" for promising Government spending on homes for teachers and nurses, to the exclusion of other low and moderate-income groups who would otherwise qualify for homes.
This is the view of Andrew Ó Baoill, the chair of Labour Party in Galway-West, who has accused Fine Gael of indulging in "promises to reserve social housing for certain favoured professionals", using public funds to "buy off sections of the electorate", and in the process, fail to tackle the "serious social and economic challenges" facing the State.
"At a time of a widespread set of crises around housing in Ireland, we need Government spending on public housing," he said. "We need ambition to reimagine our housing sector; and we need additional interventions to protect those in rental accommodation."
Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D Higgins, was in Galway last weekend, where he gave a public talk as part of the Galway International Arts Festival. Speaking on the theme of 'home', and drawing on a range of sources, he argued that housing is not just about markets and bricks, but about "the means to belong in community and to participate in society".
Dr Ó Baoill said the Government should pay heed to Uachtarán Higgins. "Where the President can provide inspiration, and speak to our better instincts, it is the responsibility of politicians to turn these goals into policy," he said.
Labour recently launched its policy on housing, which calls for "a consistent, sustainable level of social housing construction" to provide secure housing for those on lower incomes, and reduce the pressure on rental markets which is increasing the cost of housing for all. Dr Ó Baoill says the policy recognises there is an opportunity to leverage the €5.3 billion available in the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to provide "long term, low cost finance" to local authorities and approved housing bodies for the construction of social housing.