‘It’s last chance saloon’ for Eoghan Murphy

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been put on warning that he could face a Dáil motion of no confidence unless there is real progress in solving the housing and homelessness crises.

The Fine Gael minister has been told “time is running out” and he was now in “the last chance saloon” because of the failure to stop the housing emergency escalating.

This is the warning from Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó’Broin who yesterday confirmed his party could table a Dáil motion of no confidence in a matter of weeks.

The Dublin TD explained: “The minister for housing is showing himself to be as inept as his predecessor, the figures show that. We want to see the numbers of adults and children in emergency accommodation fall.

"Is it something we will consider in the coming months if the numbers continue to go in the wrong direction? Yes, it is something we will consider.”

Sinn Féin yesterday also released an analysis of Fianna Fail’s previous time in government which, it claimed, showed how the ruling party let the housing crisis escalate.

An analysis of figures by Sinn Féin revealed Fianna Fáil’s own failings on housing over 14 years, said Mr Ó’Broin.

“During the party’s last tenure in government they delivered on average 5,523 real social homes per year,” he said.

During their term in office, the number of households on local authority waiting lists jumped from 27,000 to 98,000. That’s an increase of 70,891 households, representing a jump of 258%.

“This was coupled with an increase in the level of rent subsidy dependence over the same period from 36,000 to 113,000, that represents an increase of 76,818 households, an increase of 209%.

“In 1997 the annual cost of rent subsidies was €90m. By the end of 2011 it had increased to €620m. An increase of 588%.”

Debate around housing is increasing ahead of a nationwide protest and marches this weekend, where trade unions, parties and campaigners among others will hold a national day of action.

However, Mr Ó’Broin warned against any promises by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to fix the Government’s problems.

“Fine Gael is too dependent on the private sector,” he said. “Fine Gael isn’t building enough social housing. Micheál Martin is right. 

"But the very fact that they are the same policies that he supported in government and he is facilitating in opposition means he absolutely can’t be trusted on social housing and affordable housing and the private rental sector and housing more generally.

"People would do well to remember what he did last when he sat around the Cabinet table.”

Quizzed if it was appropriate to be engaging in political point-scoring when 10,000 people were homeless, Mr O’Broin said it was important voters knew the record of politicians.

“Minster Murphy is in the last chance saloon, he needs to change direction,” he said. “And if he doesn’t and if we see over the coming months increases, we will be looking at all options, including a motion of no confidence.”

Mr Ó’Broin said any deadline on the issue had already passed for families in emergency accommodation.

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