Friday 6 December 2019

FG will need Independents' votes to keep Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in job

Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The Government is likely to turn to Independent TDs including Noel Grealish and Michael Lowry to ensure a motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is defeated.

The Social Democrats have launched an unexpected bid to oust Mr Murphy from office ahead of the Dáil's Christmas break.

If the motion is passed it would result in a general election in the days after December 25.

The party's co-leader Catherine Murphy insisted "some people" would rather see a festive election than enter the New Year with Fine Gael in power.

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However, the motion is likely to fail as Fianna Fáil has described it as "a stunt" aimed at gaining publicity ahead of tomorrow's by-elections in four constituencies.

Micheál Martin's party will abstain on the vote next week - but in order to be assured of victory the Government will have to rely on Independents.

In similar situations in the past they have turned to Galway TD Mr Grealish. He is now at the centre of controversy over comments made about African migrants.

Just this week Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe wrote calling on him to clarify "the apparent ethnic basis" of a question he raised over money sent from Ireland to Nigeria.

A Government spokesman last night told the Irish Independent they will be "vigorously opposing" the motion.

"A motion of no confidence won't build any houses or help any homeless families, but the Government is focused on providing more homes and getting prices stable, and that plan is working.

"So we would hope to get widespread support for our position from across the House."

He added: "On previous occasions we haven't depended on any particular TDs to secure the necessary margin."

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

This is the second time a motion of no confidence has been filed against Mr Murphy in his position as housing minister.

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

Asked whether they believe voters really want to go to the polls at Christmas, Ms Murphy said: "Some people do.

"Some people think they will never get this Government out, like the woman we met on the doorstep there last week in Clondalkin, where she had two lots of families under the one roof and feels she never gets a day off."

Ms Murphy and fellow TD Róisín Shortall were accompanied by the party's two by-election candidates when they announced the motion outside Leinster House.

Ms Shortall urged Mr Martin to get behind the move.

"Fianna Fáil seems to have recently realised that housing is a major issue. As soon as Micheál Martin started knocking on doors in Cork, he discovered it's a major issue. We've been saying it for the last three years."

However, Fianna Fáil's housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien said his party will not be voting the minister out of office.

"People need to see this for what it clearly is, which is a stunt," he said.

Irish Independent

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