Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has ruled out abandoning a new levy on concrete blocks, telling the Dáil that the Government has socialised the cost of paying for the multi-billion euro mica problem which means it has to be "borne, in the round, by society".
He was responding to the Social Democrats housing spokesperson Cian O'Callaghan who branded the initiative as "grossly unfair" and contended it would be mean that house prices would increase by between €3,000 or €4,000.
He argued that the cost of shoddy and defective building work and materials should not fall onto the shoulders of people trying to buy homes, when house prices have now surpassed the Celtic Tiger peak.
The Tánaiste said that the mica problem was probably going to cost billions of euro and something would also have to be done for defective apartment blocks.
He argued that quarries are not going to be able to come-up with that type of money.
Mr O'Callaghan described the Government's housing records as a "disaster and litany of failure", saying families were now locked-out of home ownership and locked-into a cycle of paying extortionate rents.
He said no-one believes Government promises on housing, adding: "None of your targets for affordable houses have been delivered."
The Tánaiste replied that 25,000 new homes were built last year which was the highest number in 10 or 11 years, but he wanted to see the figure reach 40,000 and the Government was going to do everything to increase supply.
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Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has stood over the decision to impose a levy on concrete blocks to help with the mica and other building defects schemes.
Micheál Martin said the decision to impose the levy was taken last November when the Government approved funding for the mica and pyrite schemes.
The Government felt that somewhat like what happened with insurance in the past, the sector would have to make some contribution to what he described as the enormous bill the taxpayer has to face.
He said the department's view is that the precise impact of the levy on house prices will be "quite low" and he said that was the basis on which the decision was made.
He added that it was not going to effect people who were rebuilding homes impacted by mica to "any greater or lesser extent" because of the resources the Government is giving to that scheme.
Levy to add between .4 and .9% to house prices
The concrete block levy is expected to add between .4 and .9 per cent to house prices according to one Junior Minister
Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said the levy had to be imposed because the government felt "the industry had to pay in some respect".
Speaking on RTÉ's Primetime, he said there had previously been levies in respect of two insurance companies and a banking levy and that the decision was taken to help pay for housing redress schemes.
But the Labour Leader said the levy was not the best way to make the industry pay.
Ivana Bacik said instead of imposing a levy on products, the Government should have imposed a levy on constructions companies profits.
She said this would have mitigated the risk of the levy being passed on to consumers.
She said in Britain the threat of a levy on the sector had resulted in the 38 biggest construction firms paying £5 billion into a redress fund.
She said it was time for the Construction Industry Federation here to "step up", saying that there had been a "culture of non compliance".
Additional reporting Samantha Libreri