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Rents spiral despite Minister’s claims that bargains are available

Rental costs were up again in January despite the rate of inflation falling back, new official figures show.

Private rents rose by 6.3pc in the year to January, despite overall prices going up by just 0.2pc, according to the Central Statistics Office.

For the month of January, overall prices fell by 0.7pc – but this is the second set of figures in a week to show higher costs for accommodation.

The new figures come after Junior Finance Minister Michael D’Arcy created a political storm when he said there were rents in Dublin “at a fraction of headline figures”.

He was responding to a survey showing rents in every county in Ireland rose in the last quarter of 2017.

Fellow ministers are distancing themselves from Mr D’Arcy’s remarks.

Ministers Michael Ring, Denis Naughten and Catherine Byrne all deflected questions on Mr D’Arcy and none of them agreed with him.

Mr D’Arcy has yet to clarify his remarks or give examples of where people could rent “for a fraction” of headline figures that emerged in a stark report on the market.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr D’Arcy said: “There are other places that are available for rent for a fraction of what’s being quoted in the headline figures.

“There’s also different areas where rental isn’t as expensive as it is a couple of streets towards the river and the other side of the river.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha is the latest Opposition politician to criticise his remarks, describing them as “alarming” at the launch of a report by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

The Sinn Féin councillor added: “It shows a distance from reality. For a minister to say that, it’s just showing he is not living in the real world.”

He said people searching for rental accommodation were “in desperation” with some living with parents or in overcrowded conditions because they can’t afford rent.”

Attending the same event, Junior Health Minister Catherine Byrne was asked about Mr D’Arcy’s comments. She replied: “I’m not even going there.”

Ministers Michael Ring and Denis Naughten also sought to side-step questions on the remarks. Asked if Mr D’Arcy’s comments were a mistake, Mr Ring replied: “I wouldn’t speak for a colleague of mine.”

The rural development minister added: “I can only speak for myself and the Government and all I will say is there’s a difficulty out there. People are finding it difficult to get rented accommodation and [it] is not easily got.”

Communications minister Mr Naughten brushed aside the question saying: “There are different circumstances right across this country.”

He added there is also a housing crisis in his own county of Roscommon.

Mr Naughten pointed to the National Planning Framework which will be published today.

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