Government under fire on evictions as Labour no-confidence vote looms

Government Under Fire On Evictions As Labour No-Confidence Vote Looms
Tanaiste Micheal Martin, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Cillian Sherlock, PA

Labour has confirmed it will use its private members’ time next week to bring forward a motion of no confidence in the Government over the end of the eviction ban.

On Wednesday, the Government won a vote on ending the ban at the end of March after it secured a deal with a group of independents.


During Leaders’ Questions on Tuesday, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said the no-confidence motion is not something the party does lightly but it had “no choice in the current circumstances”.



Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty accused the Government of making a “cruel, heartless and calculated decision” to make more people homeless.

“It was an absolutely despicable act and one which the people in constituencies of every Government TD and every independent who voted to enable these actions will never forget,” he said.

“It is clear this Government has thrown in the towel on renters,” he added.

Mr Doherty said there was still a chance to avert the “impending human catastrophe” when the eviction ban ends.


He said independent TDs who voted with the Government had received “30 pieces of silver”.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said extending the eviction ban would “exacerbate the homeless situation”.

“Extending the eviction ban indefinitely will do far more harm than good,” he said.

He accused Sinn Fein of dishonesty and a “make it up as you go along approach”.



In heated exchanges, Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail said he would suspend the house if Sinn Féin continued to interrupt the Tánaiste.


Mr Martin acknowledged that “homelessness and housing is a very serious issue in this country”.

However, he said there had been a fundamental shift in the Government’s approach in housing in terms of interventions on social housing and affordable homes.

“It is about supply, supply, supply,” he said.

Mr Doherty said: “You need to get your head out of the clouds.”

He added that people are “about to become homeless in nine days’ time” when the eviction ban ends.

“You voted for this,” Mr Doherty said.

Mr Martin said the Sinn Féin proposal to extend the ban to January would “make matters worse”.


“We are implementing measures to deal with homelessness, in terms of the in-situ scheme, in terms of leasing, and in terms of cost rental measures,” he said.

Ms Bacik said everyone has the right to a home but Wednesday’s vote showed the Government’s belief in this was “qualified”.

“The vote copper-fastened the fear and anxiety for everyone in this country who was renting and who has received a notice to quit in recent months,” she said.

She said the Government “cobbled together” half measures to shore up support for the counter-motion, adding that some of the new proposals “appear to be antithetical” to government’s own aims.

Ms Bacik said Labour had drafted emergency legislation for a results-based extension of the eviction ban tied to homelessness numbers.

She said the rental sector was in “utter meltdown” and Government had revealed itself to be in a “tailspin”.

Mr Martin responded: “The easiest thing to do is to call for rent freezes, to call for indefinite bans – what impact do you think that is going to have on the rental market?”

He said 13,000 homes were lost in the rental stock last year and Sinn Féin had “demonised landlords from the get go”.

“We need to retain those who are renting out their homes at the moment in the rental market, and we need to attract new people in,” he said.


He said it was a “myth” that the Government had done nothing throughout the eviction ban.

“Nobody has a monopoly on empathy. Everybody here wants to do the right thing,” he added.

While most members of the Rural Independent Group voted with Government after securing amendments, Wexford TD Verona Murphy opposed the motion.

She described Wednesday’s vote as a “mockery”.

Becoming emotional while speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Ms Murphy particularly criticised the Government on planning.

“You and your minister have failed to influence policy that makes viability a planning consideration,” she said.

“It’s time we all stopped the BS. It’s a time when we should be pulling together,” she added.

“If I have one child in Wexford that isn’t accommodated, I’ll be bringing it here, and it’ll be sitting in the Ceann Comhairle’s lap,” Ms Murphy said.

Mr Martin took issue with Ms Murphy’s characterisation of a Department of Housing official as not having “any brains”, responding: “We’re not all as ingenious as you are.”

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