Ireland’s premier has admitted that the housing crisis facing the country is a deep problem for the government.
Leo Varadkar said that the number of people in emergency accommodation is moving in the “wrong direction”, adding that there is “no quick fix” to solving the growing problem.
The Taoiseach rejected claims that Fine Gael does not care about homeless people, adding that the housing problems arise from the last financial crash.
The party has been heavily criticised for its failure to tackle to the problem, with the latest figures showing that there are 9,891 homeless people living in Ireland.
Speaking at Fine Gael’s Parliamentary Party in Co Galway, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t think the rise in the number of people in emergency accommodation can be described as progress, it’s evident to everyone that we are still going in the wrong direction when it comes to emergency accommodation.
“We’re no means in denial about that, but it is something we are working on – and just like the unemployment crisis or the economic crisis, it can take time for policies to work and for people to see results in their lives – but it is something we are determined to do, and we can see progress in other areas.”
The housing crisis will form part of the discussions at the two-day event.
The Fine Gael Think In event takes place before the Dail returns later this month.
Mr Varadkar said he understands why people are sceptical that his party can solve the problem, but added that there are no quick-fix solutions.
“If there was a quick-fix solution to this problem I think other people or other political parties would have put that forward that by now, would have published it, would have defended it, would have got it through the Dail,” he added.
“The truth is there is no quick fix and I think the vast majority of people do understand that. This is a housing crisis, housing shortage that has been emerging for a very long time.
“People who think there is some quick fix solution, they are not telling the public the truth.”
He said the number of rough sleepers is down by 40%, adding that the government has built 4,4000 new home in the last three months.