Housing Minister hits out at TD's remarks claiming he is 'elitist'
MINISTER Eoghan Murphy has hit out at remarks by Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien who claimed that he and the Taosieach were failing to solve the housing crisis due to their "elitist" and "cosseted" backgrounds.
Mr Murphy said it is a "useless" contribution to the housing debate and claimed that Fianna Fáil are "trying to undermine the Confidence and Supply agreement" with Fine Gael.
Mr O’Brien’s remarks about Mr Murphy and Leo Varadkar were reported in the Sunday Independent and sparked anger in Fine Gael.
Fianna Fáil’s new housing spokesman said: "They don’t feel there is a problem and maybe it’s because of their own backgrounds that they don’t get it."
Mr Murphy responded to the comments saying: "I couldn’t think of a more useless contribution to the national debate on housing and homelessness.
"This is a very serious issue. I have the responsibility to fix this crisis, to fix this shortage.
"The government has a responsibility to fix this and we are fixing this.
"Fianna Fáil’s only responsibility and only experience in housing was to break our housing sector, break our construction industry and to break our economy," he claimed.
And he added: "And now because they’ve got nowhere else to go they’re making personal attacks. So I’m going to continue to be focused on solutions."
Mr Murphy was asked if Mr O’Brien’s remarks would make it more difficult to establish a good working relationship in the sensitive months approaching the Budget.
He said: "I think what’s happening here is very obvious. Fianna Fáil are trying to undermine the Confidence and Supply agreement.
"We’ve had a number of their frontbench people coming out and saying they don’t want to extend the confidence and supply agreement, about not even being sure if we can make it to the Budget.
"The country wants stability… if I’m to do my job I need the time and the resources which have been made available to me to put them into continued work to continue to drive the solution we have which is have shown results in 2017."
Mr O'Brien has previously accused Fine Gael of "over-reaction" to his remarks and denied they were a personal attack on Mr Murphy and Mr Varadkar.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin is holding off placing a motion of no confidence in Mr Murphy before the Dáil because they do not want the Government to collapse in advance of the abortion referendum.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said they do not believe Mr Murphy is capable of solving the housing and homelessness crisis.
"The clock is ticking from him," she told reporters at Leinster House today.
However, Ms McDonald said they will not seek to have him dislodged from the ministry at this time.
"We don’t want to see the Government collapse in advance of May 25," she said.
That is the date of the referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment which Sinn Féin is supporting.
The party leader said it would "not be in the national interest" to risk an election that would derail the referendum campaign.
However, she said they will revisit Mr Murphy’s suitability for office afterwards.
By placing a motion of no confidence, Sinn Féin would force Fianna Fáil to either back the minister or effectively sack him.
If they chose the latter it would be a breach of the confidence and supply deal with Fine Gael and the country would almost certainly be bounced into a general election.