"My background and where I grew up and what we had to put up with was far different to yours. Don't you dare lecture me."

This was the Taoiseach's retort to the Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil today.

The topic wasn't new, but the tone of the debate certainly was.

The shortage of homes is adversely affecting an ever-expanding section of the population.

It is no surprise then that this is likely to be the dominant political issue as the pandemic relents.

However, Micheál Martin's choice of words when responding to Mary Lou McDonald suggests Government is adopting a more combative approach to this perennial political problem.

The Sinn Féin leader told the House that "rip-off rents" continue on the Government's watch.

Mary Lou McDonald said this has real consequences for people's lives and spoke of a generation of renters being cast aside.

"You need to turn away from the policies that haven't worked and embrace those that will," she told the Taoiseach.

Sinn Féin wants a ban on rent increases for three years and to "put money back in renters' pockets," through a tax rebate.

Responding, the Taoiseach angrily rejected claims that he was divorced from reality on this issue.

Micheál Martin said housing is the greatest challenge facing society, but vowed Government would increase supply.

He said construction of up to 30,000 new homes had now commenced.

"It is a crisis but the most effective of way of dealing with it is to get housing supply in place," he said.

The Taoiseach also accused Sinn Féin of opposing the building of up to 6,000 homes at local authority level.

But it was his citing of both his own and Mary Lou McDonald's backgrounds that was most striking.

This evening the Sinn Féin Leader said the Taoiseach doesn't know her from Adam and described his remarks as "personalised" and an "unedifying attempt to dodge legitimate questions".

It all suggests that the often-conciliatory political atmosphere engendered by the pandemic is now part of history.