As the eviction ban lapses, it is now time for the Coalition to step up to the plate with solutions
Political drama on the ending of the evictions ban will play out tomorrow in the Dáil with two opposition votes.
Whatever about partisan set-pieces, it will be a real-life tragedy should the ending of the ban result in a wave of people being forced to sleep on the streets because we have run out of emergency accommodation.
The Government may have left itself exposed and without cover on the issue when it comes to criticism for failing to prevent such a prospect.
But any discomfort it may feel will be insulated by the fact that it will be merely metaphorical. Those who find themselves put out of their homes with nowhere to go, could literally be left to the mercy of the elements. All understood we had a deepening emergency surrounding housing.
There was also general agreement that the eviction ban had to come to an end.
But an abrupt termination that could create misery and possibly spark mass protests because there was insufficient planning to protect against hardship, was something few could have countenanced.
It will be very difficult for the Coalition to defend itself in such a scenario – for the Government itself put on record that there is a deficit of 250,000 homes in terms of meeting demand.
In its defence, a response was required given the number of owners bailing out of the property market.
As one estate agent remarked without it, landlords would have continued to “run out of the market at an exponential rate” and something had to be done to shore them up.
But good government does not come from tinkering with one problem only to create a greater one.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted that the Government will not reverse the decision even if there is a steep rise in homeless people.
An extension of the moratorium would not solve the problem, he argued. Instead the Government “would have to look to other solutions”.
With the ban ending this weekend, the time to deliver any such solutions has surely come.
The Coalition’s majority has already been whittled down to just one.
The Labour Party has tabled a motion of no confidence, while Sinn Féin has proposed legislation that would lead to the ban being extended into next year.
Its housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, has attempted to draw the support of Independent TDs with the rallying cry: “Do not vote to allow homelessness to increase from next weekend.”
Clearly the opposition will do all it can to maximise pressure on the Government.
Yet the real duress is that endured by people wondering if their next bed will be a park bench.
A crisis that has been building for a decade will not be resolved swiftly by any party.
Progress can and must be made at a far more accelerated pace.
However, to risk making matters worse by not putting a guard-rail on what has clearly been a dangerous cliff edge could take a lot of explaining.