A leading Fianna Fáil TD has said he would back a motion of no-confidence in the Government if it were tabled because of its handling of the housing crisis.
In a highly charged contribution, Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness has signalled his intention to defy his party's whip to abstain on such motions as part of the Confidence and Supply deal.
“If a Member puts down a motion of no confidence in the Government, I will vote for it because that is the way it should be,” he said.
“I honestly hope that this supply and confidence arrangement, which is a farce and is accommodating all this stuff, comes to an end quickly in the new year so that at least the electorate can have their say,” he added.
Mr McGuinness railed against what he said was Fine Gael's decision to “introduce” the vulture funds into the country and the policies of the banks has led to the spike in homelessness, evictions and repossessions.
“I have said many times in this House that the first obligation on any Government is to keep its people safe and this Government has failed miserably to achieve that across many sectors,” he said.
“If I wanted to sum up the Government's attitude and explain it to someone, I would give them the example of the Government's support for the banks when they evict people and for the vulture funds when they treat people badly. The Government turns its back on the people who are affected,” Mr McGuinness added.
He said the Government do absolutely nothing about it.
“The Government gives tax breaks to those funds. In fact, it does not tax them at all. The Government allows the banks that it owns to do this to its people and will not change direction regardless of who tells it to,” he added.
Junior Housing Minister Damien English said that addressing homelessness continues to be a key priority for this Government and for his Department in particular.
“While we are unfortunately seeing more individuals in emergency accommodation, it is worth noting that between October 2015 and October 2016, the numbers of individuals in emergency accommodation increased by 34%,” he said.
Between October 2018 and October 2019, an 8% increase was recorded. For families, there was an increase of more than 50% in the numbers in emergency accommodation between October 2015 and October 2016. Between October 2018 and October 2019, a 1.4% increase was recorded, Mr English told TDs.
The Quarterly Performance Reports published by Minister Murphy showed that more adults, families and their children are moving from homelessness to a home and the rate of exit is increasing, he said.
In the first nine months of the year, 4,389 adults, along with their associated dependents, left homelessness and moved to a home – a figure 17% higher than for the first nine months of 2018.
In Dublin, where 75% of families experiencing homelessness are located, 786 families moved from emergency accommodation to a home in the first nine months of the year – a 50% increase on the same period in 2018, TDs heard.
“No person or individual should ever have to sleep rough. This has been a key priority of this Government and it is why over 350 new emergency beds were added this year in the Dublin Region to the other 800 emergency beds that were put in place since Rebuilding Ireland was published,” Mr English said.