Green TD vows to vote against Government on evictions ban

Nessa Hourigan said there had been no transparency in the decision reached by coalition leaders to end the ban later this month.

Green TD Neasa Hourigan said she will vote against the Government on the evictions ban (PA)

By Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A Green Party TD has said she will support a Sinn Fein motion to extend the ban on evictions in the Dail this week.

Neasa Hourigan said there was no transparency around the decision to end the ban by the coalition government, of which her party is a member.

In response, the Green Party chairwoman said there would have to be sanctions against Ms Hourigan if she votes against the Government.

Last week, Sinn Fein urged government backbenchers to support its private member’s motion to extend the ban on evictions until the end of January 2024.

The Government has decided the evictions prohibition will run out at the end of the month as scheduled, despite facing vocal calls from homelessness campaigners and opposition parties to extend it amid a housing crisis.

While critics of the move claim it will result in more people becoming homeless, the Government has insisted prolonging the measure will see more landlords leave the rental market, reducing an already low supply of accommodation even further.

The motion is due to be debated and voted on in the Dail this week – but even if it passes it would not be legally binding.

Writing in the Sunday Independent, Ms Hourigan said the vote was not about policy, but mindset.

There are hundreds of children in my constituency who are homeless, or facing homelessness through eviction next month

Neasa Hourigan

She said: “It’s about a sense of urgency, and about what this housing crisis looks like on the ground. It’s about priorities.

“There are hundreds of children in my constituency who are homeless, or facing homelessness through eviction next month.

“There are no more hotel rooms in which to place them.

“Even before the ban is lifted, many families are already living in hotels – with small babies, teenagers and adults all in the same room; single men and women with disabilities in unsafe homes, too scared to complain.

“The eviction ban has been criticised for storing up further difficulties for a later date, for discouraging landlords from the market, and for not reducing homelessness in a meaningful way.

“In reality, the eviction ban was never there to deal with any of those issues. Its purpose was to provide a breathing space for policy-makers to enact changes that would benefit both tenants and landlords alike.”

Ms Hourigan said the decision made by the coalition leaders “had not been flagged as an inevitability”.

She added: “There is still no transparency around how the decision was made – or what, if any, measures to mitigate the terrible impacts of the decision were discussed. The proposals, hastily announced, were not detailed.

“If anything, the window between lifting the ban on March 31 and delivering detailed proposals to alleviate the consequences of that decision in June (a full three months later) is likely to create a 90-day free-for-all.”

Neasa Hourigan, left, said the ban must remain in place (PA)

Green Party chairwoman Pauline O’Reilly said the party would have to send a signal to its coalition partners that TDs cannot vote against the Government without sanctions.

She told the RTE This Week programme: “All Government TDs are expected to vote with the Government. It is the price that you pay for going into Government.

“The Green Party has achieved a significant amount in childcare, climate action, transport.

“All of that is underpinned by the fact that we expect our Government partners in Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to vote with us on things that they find challenging.

“It means that on easy days and on hard days we also have to vote in line with the Government when the decisions are made at Cabinet.

“Neasa has voted against the Government twice before. This will be the third time.

“It is my belief that there will be sanctions and that they will go beyond previously.

“We have to ensure that we send a signal to Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, we don’t want their TDs voting against things that we have negotiated.

“There will be sanctions, there have to be sanctions, as we would expect from our Government colleagues.”