An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed a crowd at Fine Gael’s Think In today in Galway, where he said that Fine Gael is the party of home ownership.
He also made several references to a United Ireland during his speech, saying that his party is the ‘United Ireland Party’.
On housing, the Taoiseach commended Minister Eoghan Murphy for ‘all that he has done in the last year to improve a very difficult situatuon’.
He said: “Let there be no mistake, Fine Gael believes firmly that every family should have a place to call home.
“Fine Gael is the party of home ownership and it is our mission to ensure that home ownership becomes achievable and affordable again for many who today feel it is beyond their reach.
“I want to commend Eoghan Murphy and all that he has done in the last year to improve a very difficult situation that was many years if not decades in the making.
“Rough sleeping is down 40% – housing first is working. 4,400 new homes were built in the last three months and we are on course to build as many 20,000 this year. More new houses were built last year than any other year this decade.
“Rents are stabilising, with an average increase of less than 2% in the last 6 months. More than 100 people every day and their families are being housed with government support, and in the last year 5,000 people have been taken out of homelessness and into secure tenancies.
“We have not turned the corner, but it is in sight.”
However, Galway Simon Community say homelessness in the West of Ireland is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country and that the latest figures show almost 500 people, including 209 children, were in emergency accommodation in the West during July.
That’s a 56% increase compared to the previous year.
On the reunification of Ireland, Leo Varadkar didn’t waste any time. Within 30 seconds of the start of his speech, he was talking about Fine Gael being a ‘patriotic party’ that wanted to see a ‘genuine United Ireland bringing together people from all backgrounds and traditions’.
Later in his speech, he added: “We are the party of the just society. We are the party of Europe.
“We are the United Ireland Party.
“We are the party with the courage to succeed because we have always had the courage take action, to try new things, and to defend fundamental freedoms and liberties.”
He also said that each generation must answer a different question about the future of our country and that 30 years ago, that question was about freedom – “how we could provide the liberty to individuals and families so they could decide how to live their lives, both North and South.”