A State subsidy which would enable developers to secure up to €144,000 in funding for a city apartment, if it has planning permission but is not completed due to higher costs, has been branded as absolute madness and hair-brained by Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Doherty claimed that the scheme would deliver "zero, zilch, nada" for people who want to purchase their first home but, instead, would "lock-in sky high unaffordable prices."

The Donegal TD said it was "bonkers" for the Government to give between €120,000 and €144,000 to developers per apartment but not deliver any price reduction for buyers.

He said by "every meaningful measurement" the Government's Housing For All plan was failing and Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien was failing.

Deputy Doherty maintained that "every week" the housing situation in the country "continues to spiral out of control" and the "madness" was underlined by the latest Daft.ie report which found that asking rents is up by 12% across the State.

In reply, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said "there can be no doubt that rents are too high" and that "far too many people have to spend far too much on rent."

He argued this was due to a "dual crisis" of affordability and availability, and the danger was that if you improve one, it was possible to make the other one "worse."

However, the Tánaiste said the Government had delivered policies which were yielding results - including the introduction of rent controls which meant that "most renters" could not face an increase of more than 2% in any year.

Mr Varadkar said the Government was ramping-up social housing, and that 10,000 units will be added to the housing stock; there will be 2,000 cost rental units; 25,000 new homes delivered this year; and 35,000 were under construction.

He added the Government needed to do more to fast-track the planning process to ensure housing development does not "become stuck in judicial reviews."

Mr Doherty said that over the past 11 years of Fine Gael in government rents doubled.

The Tánaiste said Sinn Féin's record in government over two decades in Northern Ireland was that rents went up; domestic rates went up; and the pension age went up.

He contended Sinn Féin had every reason to be "ashamed" of its record in power.