Leo Varadkar may sack Catherine Byrne if she doesn’t back Murphy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will sack junior health minister Catherine Byrne if she abstains in a vote of no-confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy today.

Ms Byrne is threatening to ignore an order by Mr Varadkar for Fine Gael TDs to rally around Mr Murphy during a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence tonight. She is considering abstaining or even voting against Mr Murphy in the motion of no confidence.

Speaking at a UN summit in New York, Mr Varadkar said: “It’s of course the case if a minister can’t express confidence in their own colleagues then they can’t continue as a minister. We are a government, we make collective decisions together, and if a minister doesn’t have confidence in another minister and votes that way, then obviously they couldn’t continue. But, like I say, she hasn’t had this conversation with me yet.”

The row centres on Ms Byrne’s concerns that the redevelopment of the St Michael’s site in Inchicore is too rent-focused and will ignore local families’ needs for permanent housing.

Mr Varadkar said he will meet with Ms Byrne today when he returns from the US, but said she had not raised the no-confidence vote with him as of yet.

He said he can “absolutely understand” the objections that Ms Byrne has to the building of houses in her constituency.

She has come to me with her objections to the building of 500 new homes in her constituency and I have heard what she had to say about that but we are in a housing crisis and we do need to build new homes and particularly at higher densities, and we need a mix of housing as well because everyone deserves a house,” said Mr Varadkar.

Ministers said the Government is willing to call Ms Byrne’s bluff over her local concerns, calling it out as “complete nimbyism”.

Fine Gael is prepared to line up Ms Byrne’s replacement, with sources last night pointing to city councillors who could run in Dublin South Central in the event of an election.

Ms Byrne refused to respond to media queries yesterday, but in a tweet last night, she maintained the proposed development is not right for the site.

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