By Cate McCurry, PA
The Taoiseach has urged Eoin Ó Broin to apologise after he said the Government’s chief economist should be sacked.
The Sinn Féin housing spokesman said John McCarthy should not be advising the government on housing.
Mr Ó Broin later withdrew his comments that the chief economist should be sacked, saying they were ill-judged.
Micheál Martin said that the Dublin TD should apologise to Mr McCarthy.
“I think the comments were very worrying because we do have to listen, we might not agree, but we have to listen to advice or to perspectives,” Mr Martin said.
“I think he should apologise to Mr McCarthy because it’s not something that any public servant should really have to experience in terms of public forum, that you will just be summarily sacked almost, or the opinion be put forward that you need to be sacked like that.
“That doesn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen.
“There has to be a healthy tension between advice that is subjectively given, people can disagree with the advice certainly.
“We live in a democracy.
“We’ve seen what’s happened in other jurisdictions when official advice is just ignored, or people are dismissed from their posts, how that can shake confidence, confidence in markets, and so on like that.
“That hasn’t worked in other jurisdictions and I wouldn’t like to see it happening here.”
Mr Martin made the comments as he officially opened Cluid Housing’s new development of 65 social houses in Mulhuddart, west Dublin.
The controversy erupted following a report published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) which said that the State had the capacity to borrow up to €7 billion a year for social housing stock.
Wishing all the residents every happiness in their new homes in Mulhuddart.
Great work @CluidHousing and @FingalCoCo on developing these social housing communities for Ladyswell & Church Fields. #HousingForAll@DarraghOBrienTD @jackfchambers @rodericogorman pic.twitter.com/JD83o35FB0
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) November 1, 2022
Mr Ó Broin has previously said that the state should borrow more to invest in housing.
Mr Martin defended the Government’s housing plan, saying it has “dramatically” increased funding in recent year.
“I think we nearly doubled it already from where it was to four billion per annum,” Mr Martin added.
“We are in an inflationary cycle already. At the moment we’re at about four billion, and we’re stretched in terms of capacity because of the inflationary cycle.”
On Friday, new figures were published which revealed that almost 11,000 people have been recorded as homeless in Ireland, the highest figure ever recorded.
A total of 10,975 people accessed emergency accommodation in September, a 1.6 per cent increase on previous month, according to the Department of Housing statistics.
It is the third consecutive month where the homeless figures have reached a record high.
Mr Martin said the government’s temporary eviction ban will help reduce homelessness.
The Bill, signed into law last week, will meant that any eviction notice given to residential tenants from November until March will deferred until April.
“The population is growing and will continue to grow, that will create challenges,” Mr Martin added.
“The answer ultimately is more supply and do everything we possibly can, also then to utilise existing housing stock more efficiently, like for example, the rent-a-room scheme which will take some pressure off the market.
“So it’s on all fronts we have to fight this.”