Thursday 15 November 2018

'I’ll sack Byrne if she doesn’t support Housing Minister' - Varadkar

Minister of State Catherine Byrne has told ministerial colleagues she is considering supporting or abstaining on a motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will sack Minister of State Catherine Byrne if she does not support Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in tomorrow’s motion of confidence.

The Taoiseach said will hold talks with Ms Byrne tomorrow about the Dáil motion and her objection to the development of 470 homes in her constituency.

Independent.ie revealed Ms Byrne told ministerial colleagues she was considering supporting or abstaining on a no confidence motion in Mr Murphy. Relations between the two ministers have been strained since Mr Murphy announced a major housing development in Ms Byrne’s constituency.

Speaking after a United Nations meeting in New York, the Taoiseach said he would be forced sack Ms Byrne if she does not support her Government colleague in the Dáil tomorrow night

“It is of course the case if a minister can’t express confidence in their own colleagues then they can’t continue as a minister,” Mr Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach said Ms Byrne has not directly raised the motion with him but has spoken to him about her objections to the development of hundreds of new homes in her constituency.

Catherine Byrne TD
Catherine Byrne TD

“She has come to me with her objections to the building of 500 new homes in her constituency and I have heard what she had to say about that, but we are in a housing crisis and we do need to build new homes and particularly at higher densities and we need a mix of housing as well because everyone deserves a home,” he said.

“I can absolutely understand that Catherine has objection to the building of new housing in her constituency. It’s often the case that politicians will have a difficulty with a particular housing project or a particular bus route for example or electricity project in their constituency, but it is Government policy to build new houses,” he added.

The St Michael’s House project in Inchicore, Dublin would consist of 470 new homes with 30pc reserved for social housing, 60pc rented to low- and middle-income earners and the remaining 10pc assigned for affordable housing.

Ms Byrne recently wrote to Dublin City councilors saying anti-social behaviour and crime in her constituency should be addressed before the site is developed.

She also said the site should be developed to benefit local people and their families.

Ms Byrne said this evening that she wants "what is best" for her community as she called for more investment in Inchicore.

She said in a statement on Twitter: "As a life long resident of Inchicore, I want what is best for my community.
"The former St Michael's Estate site has a very difficult history and we now have a chance to develop it in a way that will build a sustainable community for the future.

"Of course I want to see this vacant site developed; this city needs more housing, both social and affordable.

"However, I do not believe the proposal for a large-scale, high-density apartment development, which would be a major pilot for the cost-rental model in this country, is the right choice for this ste.

"It will only serve to put huge pressure on our already fractured community."

She continued to highlight the "huge social" problems the community is facing.

"Inchicore is a great community but we are currently battling huge social problems on a daily basis.

"Before any development can begin, we need investment in the area to ensure that we have the services and amenities to support those who already live here, as well as those who want to come here and become part of our community into the future," Ms Byrne said.

The Taoiseach said he does not have the authority to block housing projects but even if he did he would not stop the development in Inchicore.

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