Belfast Telegraph

Social Democrats to bring motion of no confidence in Eoghan Murphy

The party said the housing situation was now beyond a crisis.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a visit to Kilkenny (Niall Carson/PA)
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a visit to Kilkenny (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

The Social Democrats will bring a motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister next week.

The party said it will use private members’ time in the Dail to bring forward the motion on Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, on Tuesday.

If the motion is passed, an election would be likely in the week after Christmas.

Speaking as the party confirmed the motion on Wednesday, Catherine Murphy said the housing situation had gone beyond a crisis.

“It has been an emergency for a long time,” she said.

“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 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.”

Roisin Shortall, co-leader of the party, said: “This minister and this Government have relied on ‘the market’ to provide solutions to our housing emergency.

“Under Minister Eoghan Murphy’s watch, housing has been even more unaffordable to buy or to rent.

“An entire generation of people are now locked out of affordable and secure housing.

“Enough is enough. This is a stain on Ireland. And the responsibility lies at the door of this minister and this Government. It is time for him to go.”

The average rent in Ireland is 8% higher than last year, and homelessness has gone up 354% since 2014.

According to the Government’s own figures, 10,397 people, including 3,873 children, are homeless.

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People take part in an anti-homelessness demonstration (Brian Lawless/PA)

The figures have been widely criticised as they do not include rough sleepers, women and children living in refuges, and people who have been granted asylum but continue to live in Direct Provision centres due to lack of housing.

The Social Democrats said that during canvassing for Friday’s by-elections, almost every candidate in Cork North Central, Dublin Mid West and Dublin Fingal has heard the same story of an emergency in housing.

This is the second time a motion of no confidence has been filed against Fine Gael’s Mr Murphy in his role as Minister for Housing.

The previous motion, filed by Sinn Fein in September 2018, was defeated, with 49 votes in favour, 59 against and 29 abstentions, following a heated debate in the Dail chamber.

Fianna Fail, whose votes would be needed for the motion to pass, dismissed the move early on.

A spokesman said: “The Social Democrats’ motion is opportunist and nothing more than an attention-seeking exercise days out from a by-election.

“Is the party really seeking to send people to the polls on Christmas Eve just to give itself a bit of profile?

“There will be a general election after Easter, when we look forward to making the case for a change of government and a new approach on housing, health, climate change and addressing the cost of living.”

The Government has itself labelled the housing situation a “crisis”, and it is widely accepted as the worst homeless crisis in the history of the state.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accepted in October that the Government was struggling to solve the wider homelessness problem.

Mr Murphy has made several missteps in his tenure as minister, including comparing co-living properties in which an unlimited number of adults would share a kitchen and living space as “a very trendy, kind of boutique hotel-type place”.

On social media, he said: “Stunt from SocDems won’t build one new home.”

Sinn Fein’s Eoin O’Broin said his party will support the motion and urged all opposition deputies, including Fianna Fail, to do the same.

Speaking during leaders’ questions, Mr Varadkar said: “One thing that will not make a difference, and I guarantee you, is the motion of no confidence and a general election at Christmas week or the week after.

“That will not build any houses, (it) might get you publicity, that’s about it.”

The minister’s spokesman said on Wednesday afternoon: “Have the Social Democrats ever attended a Joint Oireachtas Committee on housing either on legislation or on Rebuilding Ireland updates?

“The Social Democrats would be better using their time seeking support for a constructive solution rather than a stunt that will not pass.”

PA

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