‘It’s wrong and cruel’ – Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald calls on backbenchers to vote to extend eviction ban

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: PA.

Eoghan Moloney

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on government backbenchers to break with their party lines and vote to extend the eviction ban.

The ban on ‘no fault’ evictions is set to expire on March 31 which will lead to thousands of households being served with eviction notices by landlords.

Ms McDonald said not extending the eviction ban is “wrong and cruel” and called on backbench TDs within government to break rank and side with the Opposition, who are calling for a further extension of the ban.

Given homelessness is at a record high, with 11,754 people living in emergency accommodation in January, Ms MsDonald said ending the eviction ban will be a “catastrophe” for thousands of people.

“The Government is doing this and failed to answer the simple question repeatedly, where do these people go?” Ms McDonald said on Virgin Media’s Tonight Show.

“I cannot fathom that any government with their eyes wide open would take a decision that they know will spell catastrophe for thousands of people. And we want them frankly, to reverse that decision.

“Anybody, I think, with any sense of decency, or fair play or rationality, would look at this situation and say, ‘We've record homelessness. We're in the grip of a housing crisis and we have been for many, many years. 750,000 people live in the private rental sector in Ireland. All of them therefore, lose a protection that was very, very valuable’.

“Everybody tells us that this will be disastrous for countless numbers of families. And we could not let that go. We should not let that go. And by the way, nobody on the backbenches should blindly follow a government that clearly has lost its way, that clearly has lost any sense of priority. That clearly, in my view, has lost any sense of decency or fairness for working families when they are quite prepared to allow families into this deplorable situation.

“I don't believe anybody really in their heart of hearts thinks that this is the right thing to do,” she said.

Ms McDonald said it was important to acknowledge that landlords did not cause the current crisis but with record homelessness, “we now need to buy more time and by the way, when having bought that time, the Government needs to get its act together”.

With the news that Regional Independent TDs have drafted a list of demands on housing to be met before they side with the Government, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin has reached out to all in Opposition about garnering support for their motion to extend the eviction ban past March 31.

The Dáil will debate the motion tomorrow and the Government will introduce a countermotion which is likely to be voted on tomorrow evening or Wednesday.