Tag Archives: motion of no confidence

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

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)

 

From top: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

In the Dáil.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke about homelessness and raised her party’s pending motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy which will be debated at 8pm.

Ms McDonald called Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “delusional”.

She said:

“Taoiseach, I can only surmise that you’re delusional…you seem to believe that everything is ok, that you’re on track…despite the facts, not opinions, not speculation, the facts – that homelessness has risen. That houses prices rise, that rents are out of control and beyond the reach of even people at work.

“You seem to be entirely immune to the fact that people are now taking to the streets and taking direct action, to give voice to the anger and, in fact, the desperation that they feel.

You’re plans are not working, your minister has failed and is failing in his duty to the tens of thousands of people on housing lists to the ten thousand people who are homeless, to the children that I referred to earlier, who will sleep tonight and the next night, and the night after, and the night after that, in emergency accommodation.

“And by the way, we make no claim to have a monopoly on empathy but we certainly on these benches have plenty of exposure to those families and those very real, despite experiences and yet you are immune to them and delusional. Because you stand up as head of Government and you claim that you’re plan is working and that Fianna Fail assists you in that regard.

“You have failed, your minister is failing and on behalf of the people at the weekend who came out, desperate people, desperate people, with real stories, they want an answer from you and they want someone held to account and I suggest to you again Taoiseach that the person to be held to account in the first instance is Minister Eoghan Murphy.”

Mr Varadkar responded:

“We all know what this is about. The Dáil is back, Sinn Féin is looking to score political points so they put down a motion, a motion that is just pure politics. A motion that is just pure politics, tactical, cynical, personalised and ineffective. And there’s one thing that’s absolutely certain.

“There’s one thing that’s absolutely certain. The Sinn Féin motion put down tonight, if passed, will not house a single person. Nor will it help us to build houses any quicker than we are already. And this is all we have from Sinn Féin – oppositional politics, cynical politics, personal politics. They don’t really care about people who are homeless. They don’t really care about people on the housing list.

“They don’t really care about young couples who are struggling to buy for the first time. That’s why they put forward no solutions. When they put forward solutions, they’re solutions that don’t work. All over the country, all over the country, when they can help, all over  the country, when they can help, their councillors vote down social housing.

“Whether it’s in South Dublin or whether it’s in the North Inner City…This is the truth of Sinn Féin.”

Watch Dáil proceedings live here

UPDATE: