People who have moved to Dubai and Australia can’t move back into their own rented-out homes in Ireland because of the eviction ban, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told a private meeting of his party.
Sources at the weekly meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party revealed that Mr Varadkar said that there is a “very real, genuine issue” about people who previously moved abroad and now have the inability to get back into their properties.
The moratorium on evictions is currently to remain in place until April 1, when the process of phasing it out will begin. It is to be fully removed by the start of June, though the most recently homelessness figures released by the Department of Housing showed more than 11,000 people are stuck in emergency accommodation, prompting housing and homelessness charities to call for the extension of the ban.
Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has previously said the ban is being kept under "very close review".
Separately, regarding refugees, Mr Varadkar said a problem could arise with relaxing the period of time they have to be in Ireland before they are allowed to work, saying this could increase the number of refugees coming here.
The Taoiseach was speaking in response to questions as to whether, given the worker shortage in hospitality and construction, people could be allowed to work here without waiting the mandatory six-month period.
A number of representatives were critical of what they see as a lack of communication from Government departments.
Tipperary-based senator Garrett Ahearn criticised his constituency rival, Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who had said in the Dáil last week that there were "rumours" that a former bank building in Cahir would be used to house refugees.
Mr Ahearn told the meeting that the comments, which turned out to be unfounded, had caused some concern locally, but that he was unable to counter the rumours over the weekend as he had been unable to get the correct information.
Meath West TD Damien English told the meeting that refugee families had arrived in Navan over the weekend to be faced by protesters because he and other representatives had been unable to clarify the situation. He said the issue was "fixable", however.
The meeting also heard criticism of Education Minister Norma Foley’s handling of the free school transport scheme, with TDs saying that some buses in rural areas are not full because some parents who availed of the free passes are now not using them.