Social Democrats: No-confidence vote about forcing Govt to take different approach to housing

Social Democrats: No-confidence vote about forcing Govt to take different approach to housing

Update: The co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall has said that her party’s no-confidence motion in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is not about “triggering an election”, writes Vivienne Clarke.

Ms Shortall said: “The Government is spinning that. This is about a significant number of TDs saying they are not confident in Eoghan Murphy.

This is an opportunity to address the housing crisis. Minister Murphy needs to step down.

Ms Shortall told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that her party is calling for a new approach to the housing crisis and replacing the current Minister is a way to do that.

However, the Minister told the same programme that the Social Democrats motion was “opportunistic and reckless” and he did not think it would succeed.

He said the Social Democrats had not once questioned him about Rebuilding Ireland and had not made any amendments to his rent reform bill.

He also pointed out that members of the Social Democrats had objected to housing in their own constituencies.

“This is a stunt from the Social Democrats. Rebuilding Ireland is working.”

Ms Shortall added: “This is about forcing the Government to take a different approach. What Minister Murphy is doing is not working. It’s affecting people in all walks of life. Having a home is out of the reach of lots of people.”

Ms Shortall said the Government is “far too dependent” on the market and spending €400m on HAP does not create “a single individual house.”

The Government has spent little time on the issue of affordability. People on average incomes can no longer afford a home, she added.

Government targets for social housing are “unambitious”. The country needs an ambitious building programme.

When asked why the Social Democrats were raising the issue, she responded: “why wouldn’t we raise the biggest issue? We’re a small party, but we’re building gradually and will continue to build.

“We are serious about our policies and about tackling the housing issue.”

Mr Murphy said that if the Rebuilding Ireland programme was not in place the numbers of people in housing crisis and homelessness would be much higher.

He said: “A huge amount of work is being done. The opposition hasn’t provided alternative plans.”

Social Democrats: No-confidence vote about forcing Govt to take different approach to housing

He said that since he became Housing Minister targets in the social housing sector had increased by 30%. He also defended HAP, asking if it was not in place where would people go?

Earlier: Independent TD withdraws support for Housing Minister ahead of no-confidence vote

The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy faces a motion of no-confidence in the Dáil this evening.

The Social Democrats moved the motion saying Minister Murphy has failed to get to grips with the housing crisis.

The Government will need the support of several independents in order to win the vote with Fianna Fáil abstaining.

Independent TD for Louth Peter Fitzpatrick said he will not be supporting the Government in the vote.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall said, despite Mr Murphy's "dismal" record as Housing Minister, it remains to be seen what way her fellow TDs will vote this evening.

Ms Shortall said: "Fianna Fáil have indicated that they are going to sit on the fence, to abstain in all of this, but there is no doubt that a lot of people have serious concerns.

"I think particularly after the recent byelections that many politicians saw fist-hand on the doorsteps the impact of the housing crisis on so many families around the country."

Communications Minister Richard Bruton thinks the motion will fail.

Mr Bruton said: "I'm absolutely confident because I think Eoghan Murphy is doing a good job and i think people forget that it was the housing disaster that brought this country to its knees.

"It was the toxic relation between property and banking that destroyed this country and he has had to rebuild a housing model on the ashes of that disastrous scene that was there before."

However, TD Paul Murphy said Minister Murphy is "doing a Boris Johnson" on the housing figures.

The Rise TD said: “Time after time, Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, as well as the other members of the government have trotted out the figure that 10,000 additional social homes will be delivered this year. No doubt, it will be repeated this evening as the government tries to cover for its shameful failure to tackle the worsening housing crisis.

"In reality, this 10,000 figure is just like Boris Johnson’s pledges to recruit 50,000 nurses and build 40 new hospitals. It is spin, not based on reality. In more plain language, it is a lie.

Even the targets contained in the Rebuilding Ireland plan do not amount to 10,000 actual social homes, i.e. homes owned by the state and rented to those on housing lists. Included in Minister Eoghan Murphy’s 10,000 houses are 2,130 houses to be leased from private developers. Leasing houses from private developers who remain in ownership does not add to the social housing stock.

"However, all the evidence suggests that even these manipulated targets will not be met. To meet their own targets, the state must complete 6,545 new homes in 2019. However, the most recent report indicates that only 1,055 were built by the end of June. Increasing that to 6,545 in the final six months of the year would require a 400% increase in the rate of social housing building. It requires a Boris Johnson level of disregard for the truth to suggest that this is going to happen.

"The government is seeking to manipulate the figures to cover up the lack of building of social housing which is rooted in their ideological opposition to public provision of housing. This consistent misleading of the Dáil and the public by Eoghan Murphy is yet another reason to vote no confidence in the Minister this evening.”

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