Cian O'Callaghan TD

The Minister’s excuses for failing to answer questions are neither credible nor tenable

The Minister for Finance and the Housing Minister must come before the Dáil this week and answer questions on the investment by the State of more than €700 million in cuckoo funds which are bulk-buying homes and putting them out of the reach of first-time buyers, according to Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan.

Deputy O’Callaghan said:

“Just two weeks ago, Micheál Martin told the Dáil that the bulk-purchase of 135 homes in an estate in Maynooth by a cuckoo fund was unacceptable but unusual – because funds had never targeted a suburban housing estate before.

“Today we learn that not only have funds been bulk-purchasing homes in Maynooth since 2019, but that the State has been providing them the finance to do it.

“The Minister for Finance and the Housing Minister must answer questions this week in the Dáil and explain why State funds are being used to outbid first time buyers.

“Reports today tell us that more than €700 million of State funds have been used to buy up homes in competition with first time buyers or to build homes that are sold to investment funds.

“This week I asked the Minister for Finance to provide me with a list of the building projects in which funding from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund was used, but he refused citing commercial sensitivity. Given what we now know, it seems likely his refusal to answer has more to do with government sensitivity than commercial sensitivity.

“The ISIF is wholly owned by the Minister for Finance. It is unacceptable that it is investing in global funds which are snapping up homes that would ordinarily be bought by first-time buyers. The Minister’s excuses for failing to answer questions on this practise are neither credible nor tenable.

“For weeks, the government has defended the role of institutional investors saying we need private investment to deliver housing supply. What the Government failed to tell us is that the State is ploughing money into these funds to enable them to snatch up homes before they even come on the market.

“First-time buyers were already competing with cuckoo funds. Now, it transpires they are competing with cuckoo funds that are funded by the State. What chance do they stand against competition like that? This has to stop before any more damage is done.

16 May, 2021


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