Former FG TD votes with Opposition
JUST days after announcing that he intends running as an Independent candidate in the next General Election and resigning from Fine Gael, Dundalk TD Peter Fitzpatrick voted against the Government in a Dail debate about the housing crisis last Thursday.
Deputy Fitzpatrick joined the majority of the Opposition which saw the Government experience an embarrassing defeat on a motion put forward by the Solidarity People Before Profit group.
The motion, which had called on the Government to increase spending to €2.3 billion on social and affordable housing, to introduce legislation making it illegal for landlords, banks and investment funds to evict tenants and homeowners in mortgage distress, and to hold a referendum to enshrine a right to housing in the Constitution, was carried by 83 votes to 43.
Speaking during the debate, Deputy Fitzpatrick said that while Louth County Council has had success in the use of compulsory purchase orders, CPOs, for recovering vacant and derelict properties, this was ‘only the tip of the iceberg’.
He urged the Government to target properties which were held by banks and vulture funds, who he accused of waiting for values to go up.
Deputy Fitzpatrick also called on the Government to allow local authorities to build on their land banks by providing the approvals for same and covering the land purchase costs which the councils are carrying.
‘Is the Minister aware that Louth County Council is boarding up a vacant property because it cannot afford to carry out the necessary work before it re-lets the property?’ he asked. ‘ That is serious.’
He also called for a new rent pressure zone for Dundalk, as rents were increasing at a faster rate than house prices in the area, and for steps to be taken to prevent tenants from losing their tenancies when properties are repossessed by banks.