The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that the Government intends holding referendums on housing and water.

Micheál Martin said this would be considered by the Government in the "near future" and the Minister for Housing will be in a position to act on these issues "early in the new year".

He was responding to Independent TD Joan Collins who said that local authority workers were guaranteed there would be a referendum on water ownership before their jobs transfer to Irish Water.

She said the transfer would happen in five weeks. She added that workers "want a referendum now".

The Taoiseach responded by saying "there is no doubt that water will remain in public ownership".

'People are losing hope'

The Dáil also heard that Micheál Martin's performance on housing is "a record of problems multiplying", rather than problems solved, and that his tenure as Taoiseach has been "a failure" on this front.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said that homelessness is at a record high, and that the housing emergency is now "a disaster", with children "losing childhoods as they grow up in emergency accommodation".

Speaking during Leaders' Questions, she said that soon only bankers will be able to afford to live in Ireland, with rents in Dublin costing €28,000 a year.

Mr Martin defended the Government's record, pointing to "16,000 first-time buyers in the past 12 months", which is "the highest number since 2007".

"People are losing hope", Deputy Murphy said.

Recommendations on apartment defects

Minister for Housing Daragh O'Brien told the Dáil that he "plans to bring recommendations to Cabinet in advance of Christmas" to deal with apartment construction defects.

He has met with some groups and plans to "set up a mechanism in advance of Christmas to update other interested residents", he said, perhaps remotely.

He noted that he has received requests from around 100 groups.

The minister was responding to Paul Murphy Solidarity-PBP.