Government's majority under threat as Fine Gael TD plans to vote against mica plan

Government's majority under threat as Fine Gael TD plans to vote against mica plan

Joe McHugh, TD has voted against the mica remediation plan. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Fine Gael TD and former Education Minister Joe McHugh has voted against the Government on its mica remediation plan.

Mr McHugh voted against the legislation underpinning the scheme on Wednesday afternoon.

It is understood he will resign the party whip this evening, which would put the Government’s majority at risk in the Dáil.

Mr McHugh, whose Donegal constituency has been particularly hit by mica, told that he was making the decision with “a clear conscience”, adding that the allocation of just two hours of debate time for the scheme in the Dáil was insufficient.

“They are not giving it the adequate time to think through where it could be improved or made better. I know there will never be a perfect mica scheme but this is a massive piece of legislation and it’s just not being given enough time,” he said.

Mica campaigners protested at the gates of Leinster House on Wednesday as amendments, many tabled by affected homeowners, were debated. 

Mr McHugh is particularly focused on an amendment which would allow homeowners downsize when they are rebuilding their homes. Campaigners say that the Government’s €2.7bn scheme does not offer 100% redress for homeowners.

The decision of Mr McHugh leaves the Government with 79 TDs of 159. This means that it could, in theory, lose any confidence or finance votes. 

However, other TDs who have lost their party’s whips — the Green Party’s Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello, and Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry – have voted with the Government since losing the whip while a number of independents vote with the Government on a case-by-case basis. 

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