Eoghan Murphy claims Catherine Byrne was given 'no deal'

Eoghan Murphy claims Catherine Byrne was given 'no deal'

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has insisted Fine Gael colleague Catherine Byrne was given "no deal" to u-turn and back him in Tuesday's night's no-confidence motion, but gave no explanation for her sudden change of heart.

Mr Murphy rejected the suggestion during a media event in which he denied Ms Byrne was initially planning not to support him in the vote - despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar publicly threatening to sack her if she did so.

Speaking at the launch of the Housing First initiative in Dublin city centre on Wednesday morning, Mr Murphy was repeatedly asked about Tuesday night's no-confidence motion in his time as minister.

The Sinn Féin motion was narrowly defeated by 59 votes to 49 after Fine Gael officials ordered all of the party's TDs to attend the ballot.

The vote had initially threatened to see junior minister Ms Byrne potentially sacked from her position in a highly damaging situation for the Government after sources close to her said she was planning to abstain in the vote.

However, after meeting with both Mr Varadkar and Mr Murphy in the lead up to the Dáil showdown, Ms Byrne released a statement shortly before the vote to say Mr Murphy has her support.

Asked on Wednesday morning if Ms Byrne - who previously clashed with Mr Murphy over the summer due to his plans for housing in her Dublin city centre constituency - had been given any deal to win her back, Mr Murphy insisted "no deal" was tabled.

The Housing Minister then claimed Ms Byrne was always supportive of his position, and - despite the drama of the past 48 hours - alleged she never planned to vote against him.

"[There was] No deal, this wasn't about the motion. Catherine has had concerns about St Michael's estate since I started talking to her about cost-rental, I still haven't yet convinced her about all of those merits, I will endeavour to do so, she is a local rep and entitled to raise those issues with me and she balances that with her ministerial responsibilities as well," he said.

Asked what has changed to have convinced Ms Byrne to u-turn on her initial plan to abstain in the vote, Mr Murphy said "I think you're making a massive assumption that was never true", before saying when it was noted Ms Byrne was planning to abstain:

"Catherine saw this was a Sinn Féin stunt, that it wasn't going to do anything for anyone in her constituency. She supported me as her Government colleague as Minister for Housing, and gave me her support last night in her vote and also with her words."

Mr Murphy confirmed he "spoke to her yesterday, I spoke to her yesterday evening after we had the debate and before we voted" and insisted they remain "friends in Fine Gael".

The Housing Minister also criticised Sinn Féin's no-confidence motion intent, labelling the move a "stunt" that will do little to help homeless people throughout Ireland.


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