Tag Archives: Eoghan Murphy

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

Yesterday.

In the Irish Mail on Sunday.

The newspaper’s political correspondent Craig Hughes reported that Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin had accused Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy of “manipulating social housing figures“.

It followed Mr Murphy saying on Friday that 10,000 social homes were provided last year – 6,545 new builds, 1,325 “acquisitions” and 2,130 houses “that local authorities and approved housing bodies acquired through long-term leases”.

Mr Murphy has said that, if he’s re-elected, 60,000 social houses will be delivered over the next five years.

However, Mr Hughes reported that Mr Ó Broin has called this pledge into question, writing:

But Deputy Ó Broin claimed that Minister Murphy is wrong to include more than 2,000 homes that had been acquired through long-term leasing.

According to the deputy, social houses acquired through long-terms leasing should not be included in the social housing delivery figures.

“In 2016 the cross party Housing and Homelessness Committees’ report very clearly defined social housing as housing that is owned by the council or AHB [approved housing body]. It’s only Minister Murphy and his Government that defines social housing any differently.”

Mr Ó Broin was reported as saying:

“The owner of a long-term lease property can withdraw, so you can’t categorise it as social housing as it is not owned by the local authority or approved housing body and ends up costing the taxpayer two to three times the price.”

Mr Hughes reported that the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan pledged to deliver 25,000 new homes (private and social) every years between 2017 and 2021 but that it failed to reach its target every year.

He also reported that the number of new homes built in 2019 is estimated to be between 20,000 and 21,000 but the final figures have yet to be released.

In addition, Mr Hughes reported that although a spokesman for Mr Murphy had pledged to provide Mr Hughes with a breakdown of the latest social housing figures – which were finalised last week – no figures were provided.

The spokesman said Mr Ó Broin’s comments were “regrettable” and misleading, adding: “Long-term leases are for 20-30 years with an option to renew. They are social houses and as secure as any other”.

Anyone?

Rollingnews

From top: a Fine Gael poster was mistakenly placed near the scene at Leeson Bridge;  Seán O’Rourke discusses housing and homelessness (from left) with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy; People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett; Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien

This morning.

On RTÉ One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Seán O’Rourke spoke to Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy; People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett; Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Bróin and Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien about housing and homelessness.

The five men discussed the incident along the Grand Canal in Dublin at lunchtime on Tuesday in which a man was seriously injured after the tent he was sleeping in was removed by an “industrial vehicle” while he was still in the tent.

During their discussion, the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said he has received a report on the incident but it’s, as yet, not publishable as there are many private details pertaining to the man contained in the report.

Mr Murphy also spoke about how his election poster came to be placed in the area where the incident occurred.

At the beginning of the segment, Mr O’Rourke played a clip of what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said when he was asked to comment on the incident.

[Mr Varadkar’s comments, in which he called on the Lord Mayor and Fianna Fáil general election candidate Paul McAuliffe to comment, can be read here]

After playing the clip, Mr O’Rourke then put it to Mr Murphy that Mr Varadkar’s comments were “clumsy and insensitive”.

Seán O’Rourke: “Eoghan Murphy, how clumsy and insensitive was that on the part of you party leader An Taoiseach?”

Eoghan Murphy: “Just to say first of all, Seán, I mean this was a shocking incident and an accident that happened. I think the whole country has been very upset by it.

“And I know that all our thoughts are with the person who is in hospital and also with the people who are involved in this accident…”

O’Rourke: “The Taoiseach’s thoughts were on the political point scoring.”

Murphy: “The Taoiseach’s first reaction, when I discussed it with him and when he was discussing it publicly was one of sympathy for the person involved in this. And then this terrible event that happened, this terrible incident. And, you know, from my understanding, what he was referring to was the fact that, yes, the Lord Mayor wanted an investigation done. And yes, Dublin City Council is conducting one.

O’Rourke: “The Lord Mayor has political responsibility for it.”

Murphy: “I think, as Housing Minister, I’m responsible for what happens in relation to housing up and down the country. And local authorities have their responsibilities too. And people know that the responsibility for housing delivery, for example, is shared between my department and…”

O’Rourke: “We were looking for some sort of explanation or comment from both Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland and what we got were two statements. The first of which came from Dublin Regional Homeless Executive saying that an incident occurred involving a homeless man during a process where Waterways Ireland were removing tents that were placed in a precarious and dangerous location.

“And then Waterways Ireland came back saying the process is an initiated by DHRE with the homeless person and it’s only when that negotiation is complete, an arrangement is made that Waterways Ireland is contacted to remove the temporary accommodation on the canal bank.

“I mean if ever there was a case of blame and buck-passing that surely was it.”

Murphy: “We’re going to get to the bottom of this. It’s not the Government policy to just remove tents like this. But the tents were in a very precarious position and people might have seen some photos now, to see where they were.

“Every person who was in those tents was approached and accommodation was offered because accommodation is available….”

O’Rourke: “Damien English [Fine Gael TD] said, here in this studio two nights ago, that you were expecting to get an initial report yesterday. Did you?”

Murphy: “I did. And with that initial report there are a lot of details that go into the personal circumstances of the individual in question, so it’s not suitable for publication at this point in time. But we’re going to get to the bottom of this and we’re not going to have a blame game…”

O’Rourke: “Leave the personal circumstances aside, that’s perfectly understandable. His privacy has to be respected. But the way the two State agencies went about this business and then effectively started blaming each other.”

Murphy: “Well, so, so whenever this happens, you know, when we’re trying to help someone out of rough sleeping, into emergency accommodation and into a home which is where they really should be and that’s what Housing First is about and we can talk about that a little later.

“When we do that we do that with care and the health and safety of the individual in mind. And two State agencies were working together and an accident occurred. And we need to find out how that accident occurred and why. And I spoke with every city and county manager yesterday, in a regular meeting that I have, and I emphasised the points of taking …”

O’Rourke: “Except in this case, quite patently they weren’t working together because there was a man inside a tent.”

Murphy: “Yeah, but look, let’s just not jump to conclusions until we actually have the investigation complete. We know something went wrong here. We know it shouldn’t have happened. The people who are caught up in this themselves are distraught by it. Our thoughts are, first and foremost, with the person in hospital.

“We will get to the bottom of this but every city and county manager has been told directly by me that this must not happen again and to take every care when they’re looking after people who need our help the most.”

Eoin Ó Bróin: “And this is the second very serious and tragic event affecting a homeless person this week. Obviously there was the death of the young woman in emergency accommodation. I think, let’s take the electoral politics out of this and let’s say this has to be a turning point in terms of how we respond to rough sleeping. And there’s a number of things I think the minister needs to do and to do as quickly as possible.

The practice of Waterways Ireland issuing eviction notices to rough sleepers in tents on the canal has to end and end now.”

O’Rourke: “Ok, minister, just quickly on that point, should it and has it?”

Murphy: “What we’re trying to do is to get everyone into a home. That’s Housing First.”

O’Rourke: “No, no, no. The eviction notices by Waterways Ireland.”

Murphy: “So what would happen in that instance though, those tents, they couldn’t remain there. It wasn’t safe for them.”

Talk over each other

Murphy: “Their care was being put first and foremost when the accident happened.”

Eoin Ó Bróin: “There’s a policy of Waterways Ireland in conjunction with Dublin City Council to issue eviction notices to people in tents. So first of all, that has to end. And the removal of tents and the use of heavy machinery to do that has to end. The second thing is that while it is the case that the individual in question was offered emergency accommodation, there are lots of reasons why people who are very vulnerable find it difficult, if not impossible, to take up that accommodation.

“And [Fr] Peter McVerry is right when he spoke earlier in the week. We have to phase out the use of dormitories. Particularly for people with complex needs or who have other issues going on in their lives. That has to end, that has to be an objective of the next Government.

“And the third thing is Housing First is where you take people out of rough sleeping and low-threshold emergency accommodation, you give them their own home and have wraparound support. The Government had a target in its most recent report of 600 over three years. We need to double that…”

Later

Richard Boyd Barrett: “The circumstances of what happened at the canal are just horrific and shameful and without getting into all the details because I don’t know all the details. I do not understand why a digger was required to remove a tent. Right? A small tent.

“That is beyond explanation.”

Later

O’Rourke:You dodged the question though that I put to you based on what Eoin Ó Broin said earlier about these eviction notices by Waterways Ireland. Should they stop?

Murphy: “I, so, the practice of Waterways Ireland…”

O’Rourke: “It won’t take long now to answer that question.”

Murphy: “Can I just say: the practice of Waterways Ireland in this instance, in relation to the people who were there and why the equipment was used that Richard asks, that will be clear when the investigation is finished. But it wasn’t safe for the people there and that was primary motivation…”

O’Rourke: “It sure as hell wasn’t safe if the man ended up in Vincent’s Hospital with life-changing injuries.”

Murphy: “Hold on, hold on, this is an accident that happened. They were trying and met with each individual who was sleeping there, trying to help them out…”

O’Rourke: “By the way, I mean, would you accept as well Minister, and this is not to make a political point that one of the defining images of this election campaign will be the pictures that were on the front of the Irish Examiner and other papers yesterday of that particular scene and the garda coming along to do the investigation with your picture on a pole overlooking the whole thing, looking for votes. You, as Housing Minister.”

Murphy: “Seán, I think that is a political point. But I think again and, you know, I have volunteers who helped put up my posters. They were postering late at night. The person who was doing it didn’t notice what was happening because they were just focused on doing one thing. And the second that we saw it was there, I had someone take it down and the person who put it up feels very bad about that.

“But, like I mean, this isn’t about Eoghan Murphy and posters in a campaign. This is about a problem we have in this country about people sleeping rough that we can end using Housing First…”

O’Rourke: “Just to go back to that year 2017, the target point, July 2017, where it was to the case that no family or no homeless people would be put into these emergency accommodations. What’s the new target?”

Murphy: “So we have a very difficult situation where we don’t currently have enough homes being built to match demand. And until we get to that point, we’re going to continue to have people who are presenting themselves to emergency accommodation.”

O’Rourke: “So there is no new target?”

Murphy: “Can I just finish this point. At the moment, for every family that presents itself to emergency accommodation, we prevent one from going in immediately. We find them a home…”

O’Rourke: “Ok, it was 2017 what’s the new, is there a new deadline?”

Murphy: “Seán, can I just finish this point because…”

O’Rourke: “Please do.”

Murphy: “Since I’ve been housing minister 11,000 people have exited homelessness which is more than the number in emergency accommodation today. But we still have far more to go. We still have people in hotels and we want to end that. Our focus is on…well, our focus is on building more homes. So it was 10,000 last year. More this year for social housing.”

O’Rourke: “No more hostels…maybe the minister is right, Eoin Ó Broin…”

Murphy: “We’ve less families and children in emergency accommodation today than we had a year ago because we’re building more social housing homes.

Ó Bróin: “First of all I think if you put together credible targets, following consultation with local authorities and the voluntary sector, they work. The problem with the Simon Coveney target of the summer of 2017 was it was just plucked out of a hat.”

“But I think repeatedly the NGO sector, who do sterling work, academics and opposition have been calling on the Government to do a number of things. We have to reduce the flow of families into homelessness in the first place.

“Now some good work is done, I want to acknowledge that. But, for example, the ability of landlords who availed of Section 23 tax breaks to issue vacant possession notices to quit, is still the single largest drivers of families presenting as homelessness. That needs to stop as an emergency measure.

“The second thing is that it’s not that there’s not enough homes being built. It’s the Government is not building enough homes. Nowhere close to what’s required. And Housing First, Eoghan is absolutely right. It was Fianna Fáil who first put Housing First into a homeless policy document in 2008 and they never did anything about it.

“Housing First works for the homeless person and it works for society as a whole and, for the life of me, given that we have between two to three thousand individuals who need this intervention, the Government’s target is only about 600 over three years.

“I welcome every single one of those but it has to be dramatically increased no matter who is in Government after this election.”

More to follow.

Rollingnews

Social Democrats TDs Catherine Murphy, Róisín Shortall, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien; Fianna Fáil leader Mícheál Martin with his FF colleagues during last night’s vote in the Dáil

This morning.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien defended his party colleagues abstaining from last night’s no confidence motion against the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

The party’s leader Mícheál Martin didn’t attend the debate but did appear when the vote was taking place.

The motion was defeated by 56 votes to 53 while 35 TDs abstained.

Independent TDs Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish and Denis Naughten all voted against the motion.

He repeated what he told the Dáil last night – that the motion “one way or another is not going to house one person or take one person off the homeless list”.

He then had the following exchange with broadcaster Rachel English.

Rachel English: “…by voting the way you did last night, by abstaining, weren’t you effectively supporting and facilitating a policy that you believe has failed?”

Darragh O’Brien: “No, we weren’t. We were very clear. Early last week my party leader said it, and I said it too, that we were abstaining in the national interest, to ensure that there wasn’t going to be Christmas general election.

“And I think people have been very clear about that. So, you know, it’s not a question of us supporting Government housing policy, we don’t. We have put forward alternatives on a regular basis.

“We’ve negotiated budgets, where we’ve negotiated a fund for affordable purchase for first-time buyers.

“We want to put home ownership back at the centre of the solutions to this housing crisis and get the thousands of people who are on the housing waiting list – get them housed and get their families housed.”

English: “And in the meantime then, is it your policy that Rebuilding Ireland should be scrapped?”

O’Brien: “Rebuilding Ireland isn’t working. And Fianna Fáil has a different plan. And we’ve published that. We’ve published our affordable purchase plan. We’ve published legislation.

“So the idea Government say that Opposition don’t publish and hasn’t brought forward alternatives…”

English: “So you believe Rebuilding Ireland should be scrapped? It’s failed?”

O’Brien: “If the public were good enough to elect us at the general election early next year, we will have a different housing plan that would not be Rebuilding Ireland.”

English: “Just to pick up on something you said there, you said ‘an election early next year’, does that mean that May is too late?”

O’Brien: “No I don’t think. Micheal Martin was clear yesterday when we had our press conference and he said ‘look, probably the natural end to this will be after the Easter recess’ so you’re looking at an April/May election. And that would be I think a disorderly wind-down of Government would potentially be in everyone’s interest, in everybody’s interest, to allow the public, you know, have their say, and I want…”

English: “A disorderly wind-down or an orderly wind-down?”

O’Brien: “Orderly, sorry, orderly would be the preference. But look events and that in the future, who knows. But what we want is the public to have their say on Fine Gael’s failed housing policy.

Talk over each other

English: “You’re talking about an April/May election and not before that?”

O’Brien: “Sorry, Rachel?”

English: “You’re talking about an April/May election ideally, as far as your concerned?”

O’Brien: “That is, as Micheal Martin, has outlined and we’ve been very clear and honest with people over the last couple of years in relation to where we’ve been and we’ve seen this through and it’s been difficult sometimes.

“There may have been shorter term party political gain to be gleaned by running to the country earlier but we haven’t done that.

“We’ve put the national interest first and that’s what we’ll continue to do and we look forward to fighting a general election early next year when we put forward our alternatives and let the public have their say on Eoghan Murphy and Simon Harris and failed health and housing policies.”

English: “All right, thank you very much…”

O’Brien:

Listen back in full here

Meanwhile…

Last night.

Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward, who secured the Dublin Mid-West seat in last week’s by-election, told the Dáil that the normalisation of the housing crisis is “not normal”.

He said it’s “not normal” to have almost 4,000 children spending Christmas in temporary accommodation.

He said it’s “not normal” for adult children to live with their kids in a back room belong to their parents and to have three generations living under one roof.

In a message directed at the two Fianna Fáil TDs – Pádraig O’Sullivan and Malcolm Byrne – who were also elected last week, he said: “You did not get elected to sit on your hands.”

He urged support for the motion, saying “that’s normal”.

Meanwhile…

Last night: 10,514 But Confidence Remains

Tonight.

Earlier…

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy in the Dáil chamber tonight

Earlier:

Tonight.

The Soc Dem motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is debated.

Earlier…

Figures for the number of people living in emergency accommodation in the final week of October 2019; video link to Dáil Éireann tonight

This evening.

The Department of Housing has released the latest homeless figures which show there were  10,514 people (6,688 adults and 3,826 children) living in emergency accommodation in the final week of October.

This is yet another record high.

In November 2018, the figure was 9,968; in December 2018, 9,753; in January 2019,  9,987; in February 2019, 10,264; in March 2019, 10,305; in April 2019, 10,378; in May 2019, 10,253; in June 2019, 10,172; in July 2019, 10,275; in August 2019, 10,338; in September 2019, 10,397.

The release of the figures comes hours ahead of the Social Democrats’ motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy this evening which gets under way at 8pm.

A debate and vote on the motion can be watched live in the link above.

Earlier: “The Plan, It Seems, Is Not Adequate To The Challenge”

From top: Social Democrats co-leaders Catherine Murphy (left) and Róisín Shortall; Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy

This morning.

Bryan Dobson interviewed Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland ahead of the Social Democrats’ motion of no confidence in him this evening.

The Department of Housing’s homeless figures show there were a total of 9,724 individuals in emergency accommodation in October 2018.

In November 2018, the figure was 9,968; in December 2018, 9,753; in January 2019,  9,987; in February 2019, 10,264; in March 2019, 10,305; in April 2019, 10,378; in May 2019, 10,253; in June 2019, 10,172; in July 2019, 10,275; in August 2019, 10,338; in September 2019, 10,397.

The figures for October 2019 have yet to be released even though they were expected to be last week.

At the beginning of the interview, Mr Murphy called the motion “opportunistic” and “reckless”.

From the interview…

Eoghan Murphy: “We’re talking about a party which never once questioned me on Rebuilding Ireland on the Joint Oireachtas committee, the programme that I’ve been implementing now for the last two and a half years, that never put down one amendment on the residential, the rent reform bill that I brought earlier this year.

“And we know that the majority of people who are coming into emergency accommodation are coming from the private rental sector. I brought through reforms to protect those people. They didn’t put down one amendment and we know as well that Social Democrat candidates and public representatives, including Roisin Shortall who was on earlier, are objecting to housing in their own constituency.”

Bryan Dobson: “Well they have put down this motion and just in relation to what it might mean for the Government. There’s no question of you standing aside, allowing the Government to survive. It would mean the end of the Government, a defeat tonight.”

Murphy: “Bryan this is a stunt from the Social Democrats. Rebuilding Ireland is working to fundamentally increase the supply of housing in a sustainable way and driving a programme and reforming…”

Dobson: “And we’ll come to that. Just in relation to the politics, it will depend then obviously on the votes of Michael Lowry, for example, who as we know, is convicted of tax offences; of Noel Grealish to support you, whose comments recently on immigrants you described as “disgusting” and “potentially dangerous”. Those are the sort of people you need to go through the lobbies to keep you in Government.”

Murphy: “And my own colleagues in Fine Gael. We’re a minority Government, Bryan. And we get the support from different elements, different parties, different individuals in the House on any given vote. Each vote is different and each vote should be taken on its own merits.”

Dobson: “Right. And just…Dara Murphy, you expect him to be there? Your colleague?”

Murphy: “I do.”

Dobson: “The motion is in relation to confidence in you as minister. And you stand presumably on your record, so let’s look a little bit at your record. First in relation to homelessness.

“In June 2017, when you came into office, there were 7,900 people in emergency accommodation. At the end of September [2019], the most recent figures, that figure had risen to 10,397.

“Now that’s your record. Why would that inspire confidence?”

Murphy: “On that particular issue alone and I think we need to separate out housing and increasing the supply of housing and what’s happening in emergency accommodation because it’s more complex. Since I’ve been minister more than 12,000 people have exited homelessness. So while there has been an increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation and no one is happy about that, far many more people have been taken out of housing an security because of the work that we have done.

“Another thing to look at as well, is if you look at the 12 months before Rebuilding Ireland, the increase in the number of children going into emergency accommodation increased by 50 per cent. In the last 12 months, it’s increased by one per cent.

“That huge difference, in terms of the number of people going into emergency accommodation  is because of Rebuilding Ireland, because it is building new home and it’s supporting people in other ways who might be in housing insecurity.”

Dobson:It’s still the case though that there are close-on 3,900 children in emergency accommodation and we know from recent study carried out by the Royal Holloway Hospital in London that that has very significant or can have very significant implications for their development.

“They reported they couldn’t crawl or walk because of lack of space. That they didn’t have the ability to chew because they didn’t have access to the kind of food that they should be getting access to. That’s really a dreadful situation for any children to be in.”

Murphy: “Of course, and if we hadn’t had Rebuilding Ireland in place, if we hadn’t this programme to increase the supply of homes, that number would be much, much higher. But because we are increasing house building, we’re able to prevent more people from going into emergency accommodation so one in two families, only two families that came into homeless services this year, we found a home for one immediately.

“Regrettably another family went into emergency accommodation. But so far this year, 900 families have left emergency accommodation so a huge amount of work is being done to try and protect people in housing and security and if we didn’t have a plan that wouldn’t be happening.

“And the Opposition [inaudible] Rebuilding Ireland but they haven’t presented their own plan to replace it. And they haven’t changed one thing that I had done. We are the minority, we discussed earlier, they could change my plan and they haven’t.”

Dobson: “We also know that 45% of families in emergency accommodation are spending more than a year there. The figure is 15% for those who spend more than two years. So people are trapped in long-term homelessness here.”

Murphy: “So the majority are spending less than a year based on the figure you just gave to me. And that’s the important thing to point out. More than 50% of families in emergency accommodation are there for less than 12 months. It shouldn’t be any period at all but we don’t have the houses built yet. I mean we had a point inside very recently where the construction sector was basically non existent and almost nothing was being built.

“In a short period of time, we’ve had to rebuild the sector, build homes, and it’s at a time of net immigration as well. But the news now, under Rebuilding Ireland, is that the number of homes being built is dramatically increasing and that’s how we fix this problem. If you’re in a family hub, you’re spending an average of six months, and a family hub is the preferred option over a hotel and we’re rolling out family hubs all the time…”

Dobson: “And we’ve been hearing this, we heard it a year ago when you last defended yourself against a no confidence motion. We’ve been hearing it year after year from other previous ministers as well and yet the numbers still continue to rise. The plan, it seems, is not adequate to the challenge.”

Murphy: “The point about the numbers, Bryan, is that things were at risk of exploding. And the NGOs over the summer said that they were worried that the numbers of people in emergency accommodation was going to explode and they acknowledged that that didn’t happen. They’ve essentially remained almost flat for the last year because we have been able to build more homes. We’ve been able to stop the number of people going into emergency accommodation and now help people out.

“But we have to build more homes to get those people out of emergency accommodation and on that point, the CSO does the counting and those numbers don’t lie.”

Later

Murphy:Rebuilding Ireland isn’t four or five years old yet, OK. So what we’re doing is increasing the social housing stock by more than 50,000 homes under Rebuilding Ireland and in the final year of Rebuilding Ireland which is 2021, which isn’t very long away, we’ll house more people in social housing homes than we will through the private rental sector. That’s the turnaround that we’re facing.”

Listen back in full here

Meanwhile…

Meanwhile…

On the letter’s page in this morning’s Irish Times...

I attended court with a young homeless boy who had been charged with theft of a bottle of orange, value €1.

Another homeless man was charged with theft of four bars of chocolate, value €3.

Another homeless man was charged with theft of two packets of Silk Cut cigarettes.

A TD, on his way to, or from, his full-time, very well paid job in Brussels, stops by at Dáil Éireann to sign in, so that he can collect his full €51,600 expenses for his attendance in the Dáil.

Fr Peter McVerry SJ,
Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice,
Gardiner Street,
Dublin 1.

A tale of two cities (Irish Times letters page)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy

This morning/afternoon.

The Social Democrats will  bring a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy to the floor of the Dáil next week.

It comes, according to RTE, amid speculation that Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy is set’ to resign his seat in the Dáil to take up a job in the European Commission’.

Catherine Murphy , co-leader of the Social Democrats, said:

“Our housing situation has gone beyond a crisis and has been an emergency for a long time. This Minister and this Government have abjectly failed Irish families, our communities and our economy in not getting to grips with the chronic lack of housing that is affordable to buy or rent.

“The Minister’s trots out his plan – Rebuilding Ireland – but he can’t even meet the tame targets set in that plan. It is failure upon failure. And the consequences for real people are appalling.”

Roisín Shortall, Ms Murphy’s fellow co-leader, added:

On almost every door in the by-elections, our candidates in Cork North Central, Dublin Mid West and Dublin Fingal hear the same story of an emergency in housing.”

Meanwhile

A spokesperson for Minister Murphy said the motion is an “election stunt” ahead of the by-elections on Friday.

“This is pathetic and the Social Democrats would be better using their time seeking support for a constructive solution rather than a stunt that will not pass,” the spokesperson said.

Social Democrats to table no-confidence motion in Murphy (RTÉ)

Rollingnews

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy (second from right) turning the sod on an upgrade to the Lee Road Water Treatment in Cork City

This afternoon.

Eoin English, in The Irish Examiner, reports that the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy responded to criticism of the Government’s response to the housing crisis by Fr Peter McVerry.

Mr English reported:

Eoghan Murphy warned that the State can’t just “throw up houses” overnight and must consider how to build communities too.

…“When we build a home today, we want it to last for 100-years,” he said.

“So we have to think, are we building it in the right place, to the right standards and specifications?”

Housing Minister defends the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan during Cork visit (Eoin English, The Irish Examiner)

Pic: Cork City Council

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy; Fine Gael TD Jim Daly

Yesterday.

In the Dáil.

During the Topic Issue Debate, Social Democrats co-leader and Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy raised her concerns about delays facing people trying to access their Housing Assistance Payment and the implications of these delays.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy wasn’t able to be present for her contribution but Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly responded to Ms Murphy.

Ms Murphy claimed some people are facing a nine-week delay in getting their HAP application processed.

Mr Daly said applications are processed, on average, wait two days.

Ms Murphy said:

“I want to focus on is a serious problem that seems to have dramatically worsened in the past two or three months, namely, the delay in having a HAP application processed.

“This in addition to the lack of flexibility shown in cases where rents are very high and the HAP is not sufficient to cover them, meaning people have to try to source accommodation in a very limited sector.

In the past few months, the delay in processing an application has become dramatically worse and now averages nine weeks.

“One can find a situation where a family will find a landlord who will accept the HAP. However, when they get the contracts and present the application they are told the process will take nine weeks.

Several people have told me they have been told to pay the rent in the interim. Who, in his or her right mind, would say that? If people had several thousand euro in their bank account, they would not be looking for a housing assistance payment.

“It is absolutely mad. These people do not have money to pay rent in the interim. The delay has got dramatically worse.

Ms Murphy added:

“Another major concern I hear expressed all the time is that when people borrow the money they do not feel secure about getting the money back because they will have demonstrated an ability to pay it. This issue is adding to the stress.

“Landlords are also left in limbo because they do not know, if they have accommodated somebody with HAP, that the payment will be processed. It would be enormously helpful if a letter was sent out confirming that people are approved.

“I speak to a number of estate agents, and I had cause to speak to one particular letting agent, who I know is very good at sourcing accommodation and encouraging landlords to take HAP tenants.

“He spoke about having very good experiences and not having an issue. However, he feels he has been left with egg on face because he recommended HAP but it is taking so long to process it that landlords are coming back to him saying they are uncertain they will get paid.

“It is perfectly legitimate and legal for a landlord to evict somebody in that scenario.

The letting agent told me that once a property is advertised in the north Kildare-west Dublin area, he expects to receive 150 or 160 emails within 24 hours, of which 70% would be from HAP tenants.

The remaining 30% of applicants have the best chance of securing that accommodation if the landlord knows he or she will have to wait nine or ten weeks to have the HAP payment processed.

“I have come across several cases where people who have been told to leave accommodation subsequently find other accommodation and then have to reapply for HAP.

When we ring the office in Limerick we are told the reason for the delay is that a large number of additional applications have been received.

Is there a large number of additional applications? Is the problem a shortage of money or a staffing issue? What is causing the problem because the situation is chaotic at the moment?

Mr Daly responded to Ms Murphy by explaining how the HAP system works before saying:

“Limerick City and County Council provide a highly effective transactional shared service on behalf of all HAP local authorities and manages all HAP related rental transactions for the tenant, local authority and landlord.

On average, HAP applications are processed by the HAP Shared Services Centre within two working days of receipt.

“Any rental payment arising for a given month will then be made to a landlord on the last Wednesday of that month.”

Ms Murphy told Mr Daly to ring the Limerick office and warned him that she believes his information is “wrong”.

She said:

“What is in his [Mr Daly’s] reply does not match in any way the experience of the applicants. That information must be out of date.

“It is not fair on applicants to put them in this situation. If their applications were being processed within two days I would not be on my feet raising this issue.

I would not have queues of people coming into my office in tears totally stressed out by this. This is also not fair on landlords who are being left in a precarious position. It is not fair all round.

“Regarding the timelines the Minister of State mentioned, it can take up to two months, and mostly it does, to process a housing application.

“It can take another eight or nine weeks to process a HAP application. What is happening is potentially adding to the homeless crisis.

“The way HAP is being applied is problematic. In some local authorities the uplift of the 20% for a person who is in a homeless situation is not being applied. From my experience of its application in Kildare, it has been very patchy.

The delays in HAP payments are sending the message to landlords that they should stay away from this scheme.

“That is not the message that needs to be delivered when we know people are already in a precarious position in terms of security of accommodation.

“I ask the Minister of State to check the facts he has put on the record because they do not align with the experience of people with whom I have been dealing and the situation has dramatically disimproved during the past few months.

“I believe the information in the reply is wrong.”

Mr Daly said he would relay Ms Murphy’s contribution to Mr Murphy.

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie