[Sinn Fein]

12th December 2002

Sinn Fein target Department of the Environment in housing protest

A number of Sinn Fein members from across Dublin today staged a protest picket and occupation of the Department of the Environment at the Customs House to highlight the party's opposition to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2002. The Bill that is to be rushed through the Dáil over Thursday and Friday of this week will remove the obligation on developers to provide 20% social and affordable housing on all developments.

Speaking at the protest Sinn Fein TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that, ``this Amendment Bill is an absolute disgrace. Coming as it does so close to the removal of the first time buyers grant and the increase in the lower rate of VAT by 1% it is a further kick in the face for those who have been languishing on the every spiralling housing waiting lists across this state and those who have been attempting to get their feet on the first rung of the housing ladder.

``The speed with which the government is pushing through this Bill stands in stark contrast to their singular failure and lack of urgency to address the housing crisis which they have presided over for the last six years.

``House prices have double in the lifetime of this Government. That it did so is down to sheer greed and the exploitation of an already existing housing shortage. The original intention of the Planning and Development Bill was to make more land and housing units available. That it has failed to do so is down to the inability of the Government and local councils to face down the speculators and developers and to make them live up to their legal obligations.

``That they gave in so easily to their threats to stop providing land and housing units says it all about where the real political power lies in this state. The Minister for the Environment should hang his head in shame.'' ENDS

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