Scramble to find voting pair for Justice Minister after Violet-Anne Wynne ends arrangement to vote against Government on eviction ban

Members of the public today protesting against the lifting of the eviction ban outside Leinster House (Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos)

Gabija Gataveckaite

The Government is scrambling to find a new pair for Justice Minister Helen McEntee, who is on maternity leave, ahead of tomorrow’s Dáil vote on the eviction ban.

Government and opposition TDs usually pair up for votes if they cannot be in the Dáil chamber for votes.

Minister Helen McEntee, who is currently on maternity leave, was paired up with Independent TD Violet-Anne Wynne.

However, Ms Wynne has now ended the pairing arrangement as she said she cannot “simply stand by” and “do nothing” while she meets homeless constituents every day.

A spokesperson for Government Chief Whip, Hildegarde Naughton, said “arrangements are being made” ahead of the vote.

This would avoid Minister McEntee having to come into the Dáil, while on maternity leave, for the vote.

“As is normally the case, where a TD cannot attend the Dáil for votes, due to personal reasons or on account of official Government business, pairs are sought with members of the opposition,” said the spokesperson.

“[Regarding] Minister McEntee’s pair - arrangements are being made.”

“Voting with Government or abstaining on this motion is not an option in my mind – this issue is simply too important,” said Ms Wynne.

“This Government has failed consistently on housing and the people of Ireland have suffered consistently as a result.”

She said an extension of the eviction ban is the “least worst” option and is not a “panacea”.

In a statement, Ms Wynne called for no fault evictions to be abolished and said homelessness should be “redefined”.

She said she will bring forward legislation to redefine homelessness before the summer.

“I said that [the eviction ban] was a time-buying exercise by the Government and would prove futile beyond the end of March. Unfortunately, it appears that time has proven me right.

“I also said that I hoped the Government would use this time to constructively engage with the sector and all relevant stakeholders to work on concrete solutions and unfortunately to this end time has proven me wrong.

“Unfortunately, my calls have not been heeded and my advice has been flatly and roundly ignored.”