UCD Young Fine Gael hosted TD Maria Bailey and UCD Students Union President Barry Murphy last Thursday for a discussion on the current housing crisis and the Government response to it. Ms Bailey who is the Chairperson of the Committee of the Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government spoke about how the Government’s approach to the housing crisis was embodied in the Rebuilding Ireland plan published in 2016.
This plan included measures to bring new builds into the market, addressing homelessness and student accommodation. Other key aspects that she discussed was the efforts to bring in legislation surrounding ‘digs’ accommodation and more general student accommodation, to provide for minimum standards and rights. This would also bring it under the same rules as currently apply to ordinary rental accommodation. She also defended the Governments recent decision to provide tax relief for landlords in the recent budget as a necessary measure to keep landlords in the market.
UCD SU President Barry Murphy spoke about the massive disparity in the quality of student accommodation available in Ireland, with the only options really being available being the very high end or sub-standard accommodation. This he argued left a large gap in the middle of the market for run of the mill affordable accommodation. He also noted that the Government was in the process of bringing in legislation to protect students in digs accommodation.
Murphy did speak about the danger that with the ever-rising cost of accommodation in Dublin, that the Dublin universities may just be for those who live in Dublin. there was also a concern that as a result of the growing cost of accommodation, international students may be discouraged from coming to Dublin, damaging the revenue streams of the universities.
Bailey argued that improvements had been made, particularly around the reporting to the Rental Tenancy Board. However, she acknowledged that there was still work to be done. She also said that there would be a substantial improvement over the next six months as a number of the projects that the government had implemented would come to bear fruit.
Killian Bourke the Auditor of UCD YFG said to the Tribune ‘Maria has been a huge supporter of the branch for many years now and we are so glad to see that continue.’ He went on to speak to the importance of cooperation between the SU and the Government in regards to finding solutions to the housing crisis. Bourke said that UCD YFG has and would continue to communicate to the Fine Gael parliamentary party about the needs of students on campus.
By Aaron Bowman – CoEditor