Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused Ireland’s premier Leo Varadkar of being “delusional” when it comes to the housing crisis.
Ms McDonald said: “I can only surmise that you’re actually delusional… He seems to believe that everything is OK and that he is on track despite the facts.”
The Sinn Fein president made the comments ahead of a scheduled vote of no confidence in the country’s housing minister Eoghan Murphy in Dail Eireann on Tuesday evening.
Sinn Fein’s tabled motion aims to put pressure on the Government over the rising homeless figures, which have almost reached 10,000 people.
“You seem to be entirely immune to the fact that people are now taking to the streets and taking direct action to give voice to the anger and in fact the desperation that they feel,” Ms McDonald said.
“Your plans are not working, your minister has failed and is failing in his duty to the tens of thousands of people on housing lists, to the 10,000 people who are homeless.”
A group of about 1,000 housing protesters staged a mass demonstration in Dublin last weekend to highlight the issue.
The Take Back the City demonstrators brought traffic to a standstill on O’Connell Street and O’Connell Bridge, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, as they took part in a sit-down protest.
The Taoiseach accused Sinn Fein of tabling the motion purely for political reasons and not really caring about people.
“This is all we have from Sinn Fein, opposition politics, cynical politics, personalised politics,” Mr Varadkar said.
“They don’t really care about people who are homeless,” Mr Varadkar said.
He added: “We see the old tactics of Sinn Fein have not changed, it’s just to shout you down.”
The exchanges between Mr Varadkar and Sinn Fein politicians led to Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail, chair of the Dail, appealing for order in the parliamentary chamber.
“Can we please transact our business with a little bit of decorum,” Mr O Fearghail said.
Mr Varadkar said 20,000 new homes would be built this year and that by 2020, that figure would reach 25,000 each year.
Former developer Mick Wallace said the Government had not a chance of building 20,000 new homes this year and he appealed for the Government to change track.
“There’s not a prayer in hell of that happening, it’s not possible, you won’t even get close to it,” Mr Wallace said.
The Independent TD accused the Government of “massaging the figures no end” when it came to housing statistics.
But the Taoiseach said the figures when it came to new home builds came from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), a trusted independent body.
“I don’t think anyone disputes the accuracy of the CSO,” he said.