Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns has said that it is not possible to bring house prices down to €300,000 overnight.
Speaking on RTÉ’s, Ms Cairns said it is important to be honest with voters on housing issues.
“It’s really important to be honest with voters about this, bringing homes down to €300,000 overnight in Dublin, that’s not a possibility,” Ms Cairns said.
Previously, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that house prices need to fall substantially and that the average cost of a house in the capital should drop to €300,000.
However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hit out at this suggestion, saying Sinn Féin had not considered the proposal.
“That would have significant consequences. It would put a lot of people into negative equity, particularly the vast majority of people who bought their first home in the last couple of years,” Mr Varadkar said.
“If banks and lenders hear that the potential next Taoiseach wants house prices to fall by that much, they will think twice about issuing mortgages to people against assets that are going to be worth less.” Ms Cairns said that there is a need to tackle the ongoing “affordability crisis” in the housing system.
While she said the private sector does have a role in dealing with the housing crisis, Ms Cairns said that it is not working at present.
“The private sector absolutely have a role to play in this but it’s not working. Just throwing the kitchen sink at the private sector and that’s consistently what we’ve seen from this Government,” Ms Cairns said.
“The reality is we need to be in a situation where people on an average income can afford to buy a home and at the moment we’re not. We absolutely have to address this crisis.” She said that spin around the Government meeting its overall housing targets give people a “sense of hopelessness”.
“When you hear things like we’ve exceeded our housing targets but somehow child homelessness is up 55% since this Government took office. Those two things don’t match up.” The latest figures from the Department of Housing show that there were 13,318 people homeless in the State in the last week of December.
In particular, there were 3,962 children homeless alongside 9,356 adults.