Green Party TDs to decide on eviction ban vote as tougher sanctions loom for Green rebel Neasa Hourigan

The Green Party’s Neasa Hourigan looks set to vote against the Government for a third time. Photo: Mark Condren

Gabija Gataveckaite

Tougher sanctions loom for Green Party rebel TD Neasa Hourigan, who has said she will vote against the Government in a Sinn Féin motion on extending the eviction ban.

This is despite her previous comments that voting with an opposition motion would not actually reverse the end to the eviction ban.

Green Party TDs and senators will meet tonight to consider the Sinn Féin motion, which will be voted on in the Dáil tomorrow.

There have been suggestions Ms Hourigan could see tougher sanctions from the party as it will be the third time she has voted against the Government.

Last week Sinn Féin approached all independent and opposition TDs on the vote. It is understood no contact was made with Ms Hourigan.

In 2020, she voted against the Government on opposition amendments to legislation extending a rent freeze and eviction ban to only tenants affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, she and Minister of State Joe O’Brien’s speaking rights were stripped for two months.

Last year, she voted with a Sinn Féin motion on the National Maternity Hospital, following which she was suspended from the Greens for six months.

However, it is unlikely Ms Hourigan will be expelled from the party.

Former party chair Hazel Chu told the Irish Independent: “The Green Party has procedures in place and nobody can expel her unless the national executive decides to do so.”

TD Patrick Costello, who previously voted against the Government alongside Ms Hourigan, last week was expected to not vote against the Government on the motion tomorrow.

He is expected to make a final decision after tonight’s meeting.

“Green Party TDs are expected to vote in line with the Government,” said a spokesperson for Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

“The parliamentary party will discuss this matter over the coming days.”

Green Party chair, Senator Pauline O’Reilly, said the punishment as a result of Ms Hourigan’s vote will go “beyond” previous sanctions.

“I believe that there will be sanctions and that they will go beyond previously,” she told RTÉ.

She added: “A general feeling is that we have to step things up.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Ivana Bacik has written a letter to the Taoiseach asking him to extend the eviction ban.

Labour has threatened to hold a vote of no confidence in the Government if its legislation on extending the ban is not passed by Government.

Labour has said it will support the Sinn Féin motion tomorrow. However, “if it fails”, the party has sent legislation to Leo Varadkar which would see an extension of the ban.

The law states the ban should only be lifted if there has been a decrease in homelessness numbers for four months in a row.

“[The law] goes on to empower the Minister to lift the ban when monthly homelessness reports show a reduction for four successive months,” Ms Bacik writes.

She said Labour does not have enough Dáil speaking time to enact this law but “we know that the Government can act to pass emergency legislation within that timeframe, so I am asking you to do so now”.

The Labour Party is set to bring a motion of no confidence in the Government on March 29 if proposed emergency laws are not passed.