Irish Freedom Party candidate runs converted office Airbnb under fake name for almost €1,000 a week

An Irish Freedom Party European candidate uses a fake name to run a rent pressure zone Airbnb in a converted office space for almost €1,000 a week.

Michael Leahy – who says he’s “passionate” about “making it affordable for people to access the housing market” – operates the short-term let in Ennis, county Clare.

He uses the pseudonym John and advertises the property as “ideal for three adults or for family”. When asked by The Ditch why he advertised his Airbnb under a false name, Leahy said, “Because people would attack me.” When asked who would attack him, Leahy said, “People who don’t like me.” 

Leahy is formerly a planner, architect and board member of An Bord Pleanála. He has described the housing crisis as “artificially created” and has said that mass immigration is responsible for the crisis. 

‘Driving young people out of the housing market’

Ireland South EU election candidate Michael Leahy operates the Airbnb in an office space that used to host his planning business Leahy Planning Ltd.

A logo for the business is visible in pictures advertising the short-term let – which costs €135 a night. 

It’s booked out for all of August except one day, meaning that next month Leahy will make more than €4,000 before Airbnb fees and income taxes.

“The flat appears to be a business that was converted into a flat,” wrote one woman, from Florida, reviewing the Airbnb, which has a 4.63-star rating. Another comment referred to the accommodation as “unusual” as it is located among offices.

A website advertising his candidacy for the European parliament says Leahy believes “open doors migration” is responsible for “driving young people out of this housing market”.

The Ditch asked Leahy if it’s appropriate to run a short-term let “ideal” for three adults or for a family in a rent pressure zone during a housing crisis and whether this contradicts the Irish Freedom Party’s platform of “housing the Irish first”.  

He said the space is “not appropriate” for long-term accommodation though he “probably” has plans to convert the other five units in the building to housing before the end of the year. 

When asked why he didn’t convert the office space to long-term housing to begin with, he said there had been “a number of reasons” including “construction issues”.

Leahy, the chairperson of the Irish Freedom Party and a former president of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce, owns the full building on Mill Road, in Cloghleagh, Ennis, which hosts the short-term let.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors