Government survives motion of confidence over eviction ban

86 TDs voted in favour of the confidence motion which the Government had tabled in itself, with 67 voting against
Government survives motion of confidence over eviction ban

Defending the current government, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also conceded that it can "do more and do better". File picture: Maxwell Photography/PA Wire

The Government has survived a confidence motion in the Dáil despite its “cruel and cold-hearted decision” to lift the eviction ban.

86 TDs voted in favour of the confidence motion that the Government had tabled in itself, with 67 voting against.

A number of Independents including Cathal Berry, Sean Canney, Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry, Denis Naughten and Matt Shanahan sided with the Government.

Neasa Hourigan who lost of the Green Party whip last week also voted confidence in the Government as did former Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh and Marc MacSharry who has left the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

The motion which was triggered by a motion of no confidence from the Labour Party concerning the housing crisis and the lifting of the eviction ban resulted in a debate labelled as "disgraceful" by Ceann Comhairle.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accused the Labour Party of getting “caught in a trap of its own making” adding that the party held the housing and public expenditure briefs “not too long ago”.

“It's a truth never acknowledged – but I am going to say it - every party in this House seems to believe the housing crisis was terribly mismanaged, except for the periods when they were in government. It’s remarkably convenient, but not coherent,” he said before adding that it was “no wonder” Sinn Féin is so happy.

He said the party gets to be consistent and direct their ire at everyone.

“if you mention the housing crisis in the North you are shouted down. They don’t want voters to know what 20 years of on-off Sinn Féin Government replete with Sinn Féin housing, finance and deputy first ministers really looks like,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Dail Chamber, Leinster House. Picture: Maxwell Photography/PA Wire
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking in the Dail Chamber, Leinster House. Picture: Maxwell Photography/PA Wire

Mr Varadkar said extending the ban would have been the easier political decision to make and one with the least resistance, however, he said it would have made homelessness worse at a later point.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said the Government has accused Fianna Fail and Fine Gael of making "disastrous decisions" on housing.

"On your watch, we have gone from housing crisis to housing emergency to housing disaster.

"The policies you have implemented together over the course of the last decade have brought us to where we are today.

"You followed an agenda that explicitly transferred to the private market, the responsibilities of Government to deliver housing for our people."

She added: "Instead of building housing, you poured billions into the private rental market."

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said the Government has "turned a housing crisis into a catastrophe" as he criticised the Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien.

Social Democrats Leader Holly Cairns said time is “running out” for the Government and people lost confidence in it “a long time ago”.

“If the government survives this vote on this occasion I expect there will be more votes of no confidence,” she said before adding: “Every day we hear the same attempts to spin failure into success.” 

Ms Cairns accused the Government of “gaslighting” as it announced “half-baked” schemes which were “optimistically” described as a safety net for renters, She said the impact the housing crisis is having on physical and mental health is “absolutely devastating”.

“Children are missing developmental targets as they grow up in emergency accommodation, the lives of adults in their 20s and 30s are on permanent hold because they can't even move out of their childhood bedrooms, once really happy relationships are breaking down under the string of housing insecurity,” she said before adding that there is “no end in sight”.

Ms Cairns said the official figures are a significant underestimate of the extent of the crisis and that there are thousands more people couch surfing, sleeping in their cars or staying in “boxrooms”.

“Why would you do something that you are sure is going to make the situation significantly worse? Why would any Irish government vote to increase homelessness?” she said.

Ms Cairns described the Green Party’s comments which justified their support for lifting the eviction ban by stating the tenants will soon have a first right of refusal to buy their home when the landlord sells it as a “Marie Antoinette moment” saying: “Let them eat cake is not the solution when the masses can't even afford bread.” She added that the Green Party “didn't seem to know” that house prices are at “record highs”.

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy used his time to advise those facing eviction to refuse to leave their homes and to continue to pay their rent.

 - Additional reporting from PA

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