'It's time to bite the bullet': FF TDs call for an eviction ban despite Taoiseach's resistance

'It's time to bite the bullet': FF TDs call for an eviction ban despite Taoiseach's resistance

Paul McAuliffe is one of the Fianna Fáil TDs  pressing for an eviction ban despite Micheál Martin's assertion that such a move would be unconstitutional. File picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

A group of Fianna Fáil TDs has said it wants a temporary eviction ban to prevent more people being forced into homelessness this winter.

Pressure is mounting on Taoiseach Micheál Martin as Government TDs are “incredibly concerned” over the increase in the number of notices to quit being issued to tenants.

Dublin North-West TD Paul McAuliffe said an eviction ban should be brought in by the Government as a cold winter initiative. Party colleagues Willie O’Dea, Cormac Devlin, Cathal Crowe, Jennifer Murnane O’Connor, and John McGuinness backed the call.

Barry Cowen said he would like to hear the issue teased out and would welcome a presentation from Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien at a parliamentary party meeting.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr McAuliffe said: “I do believe that the circumstances over these few months are coming to a position where, on an emergency basis during the winter, perhaps as a winter initiative, we could put in place another eviction ban by this Government.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has argued the Government has been given legal advice that an eviction ban would be unconstitutional.

Mr McAuliffe and Mr McGuinness said the Government should take the risk and do what is needed to ensure people are not forced out on the streets.

Homelessness figures have hit a record high for the second month in a row, with 10,805 people living in emergency accommodation. Mr McAuliffe said: 

It’s time to bite the bullet. I’m not underestimating the possibility of legal challenges but we should take the risk. 

"People are coming to me facing homelessness for the first time.”

Mr McGuinness said an eviction ban to March would give the system breathing space. “The State should take the risk and copper-fasten it as much as they can against a legal challenge because by all means people should come first, people have suffered enough.”

Mr O’Dea said he is dealing with people who are facing homelessness before Christmas and can’t find them temporary accommodation.

Mr Crowe said it would protect families this winter and he believes “we’ve yet to hit the depths of the energy crisis”.

He said that perhaps legislation should be examined with a sunset clause similar to what was in place during the pandemic.

Mr Devlin said an eviction ban should be explored and examined. Ms Murnane O’Connor said she supports the measure too.

Mr Cowen said he worries an eviction ban may have the opposite effect and force landlords to sell their homes when the Government is trying to sustain supply, but said a debate is needed on the matter.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin said people struggling to pay their energy bills “will not be cut off” this winter. He said people will not be disconnected unless there are extenuating circumstances, for example, not engaging with their energy provider.

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