Home ownership at its lowest rate since 1971

Almost 250,000 homes lying empty on Republic's census night

Irish house prices post fastest growth since 2015

Offaly had 27,184 permanent occupied dwellings in April 2016, compared with 26,543 in April 2011.

Dr Sirr said the fact that only 8,800 houses had been added to the housing stock meant there was only one new house created for every seven new households.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Ireland have just recently published the average weekly rent for households in Ireland.

Though the vacancy rate in small rural towns is quite high - Blacklion in Cavan having the highest rate where nearly half of all homes are empty.

The CSO figures also show a quarter of sales a year ago were to first time buyers.

While among larger towns, with a population greater than 10,000, Letterkenny (14.9%), Longford (14.6 %), and Ballina (14.3%) ranked highest in terms of vacancy.

The scale of the housing crisis has been outlined in a new report taken from Census 2016.

Almost 250,000 homes lying empty on Republic's census night
Empty houses in Co Cork

In the five years from 2006 to 2011 the number was 225,232.

Spokesman Francis Doherty said: "The quickest and most efficient way of making more homes available is to get empty homes back into use".

The data also showed that the average price paid for a home in Dublin in the year to February was 398,319 euro.

"We see house price growth remaining in positive territory on a year-on-year basis for a while yet, with the annual rate of increase now set in our view to be in the 7-12 percent range over the next few months", he said. Many of these people are the "hidden homeless"; those thousands of families in Ireland who are living in substandard, overcrowded or unsafe accommodation, unable to move or demand better accommodation because they have no other options.

The number of home owners is in decline falling from 1,149,924 in 2011 to 1,147,552 in 2016.

Mr Davitt said the big impediments to house building included a lack of knowledge in government of the true cost of construction, the inability of smaller builders and developers to access finance and at reasonable interest rates, a lack of competition in the lending market, mortgage lending rules and a risk-averse attitude among lenders.

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