Ending eviction ban ‘completely wrong’, says Green Party’s Neasa Hourigan

Hourigan sharply critical of party leader Eamon Ryan for agreeing to decision

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan has sharply criticised the decision to end the eviction ban, saying it was “completely the wrong decision”, describing it as “heartless” and expressing her disappointment that Green Party leader Eamon Ryan did not “speak up for Green Party values and Green Party policy”.

“He obviously didn’t speak to our policy, because our policy is to extend the eviction ban until the crisis is in some way addressed,” Ms Hourigan told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne.

She said the Government is “putting the investment interests of people who have two or three homes ahead of the basic needs of people who have none”.

“It suits Fine Gael fairly well. But it doesn’t suit the Green Party. And I think we need to be clear about that,” she said.


The Chair of the Green Party said she is “disappointed” with Ms Hourigan’s criticism of the Cabinet decision to end the eviction ban. Senator Pauline O’Reilly said she would have waited until she had all the facts, “and it was clear Neasa didn’t have all the facts”.

Ms Hourigan, when asked whether she would vote against the move, said there was no vote on it, it was simply a policy agreed by the Coalition leaders and rubber-stamped by the Cabinet.

When pressed on whether she would oppose it or leave the party, she said she did not want to make it “more about me than … about the eviction ban”. She said, however, that it was “a fair question”.

“But, you know, I don’t know today about that,” she said. “All I can do is stay and deal with this Cabinet decision. We haven’t actually even got that decision yet. And I think let’s keep the topic on the people in my area. But in 30 days we’ll be receiving eviction notices.”

Ms Hourigan said that in her Dublin Central constituency, “the level of homelessness is through the roof”.

“And I can guarantee you that next month I will be sitting in constituency clinics and there will be mammies coming in to me saying I am being evicted through no fault of my own, this is no-fault eviction, and I am now going to have to move,” she said.

“My children are going to have to be removed from their school and go somewhere else. And there are no more hotel rooms in the city centre. There are no more.

“And I genuinely do not know where we are going to put people.”

She said the eviction ban was “like a sticking plaster, was like, you know, an emergency situation so that we could take action in the meantime and do the radical surgery”.

But she said the Minister for Housing and the three leaders of the Coalition “haven’t done the surgery. We haven’t done the things that we needed to do before we lifted the ban.”

The decision not to extend it has “let down” young people in Ireland, the youth wing of the Green Party has said, calling on Mr Ryan to “reflect on his ability” to fulfil his obligations to the party.

In a statement circulated to members of the Green parliamentary party on Tuesday afternoon, the Young Greens expressed their “collective disappointment” at the decisions and said that a moratorium on evictions should have remained in place until there was a “realistic, deliverable plan” to prevent homeless services from being overwhelmed.

It said that the “very same conditions that led to the moratorium have not disappeared since it was first implemented”, and that the Government decision has “left an unprecedented number of families at grave risk of homelessness.”

The group wrote that the increase in homelessness figures seen during the ban has been used by “vested interests” to advance the claim that it was ineffective, but that charities and providers of emergency accommodation have “unequivocally stated that the moratorium was successful in preventing a scale of evictions beyond their capacity”.

Sources told The Irish Times on Monday there was agreement on a suggestion put forward by the Green Party to strengthen tenants’ rights by giving them first refusal on purchasing their home if the landlord is selling it, or secondly, that it should be offered to an Approved Housing Body which would allow them to continue living in it.

I know my constituency is not unique, but I can tell you the impact this is going to have

—  Neasa Hourigan

But Ms Hourigan said many people who might be given first refusal to buy a property they are already renting would not have the resources to buy it.

“I am actually embarrassed to be on a national radio station pointing out that if people had the resources and the financial means to buy a property, they would be doing that already,” Ms Hourigan said.

“And if we were serious about buying properties on behalf of, let’s say, local authorities, then we’d actually have to borrow money in a serious way and not the piecemeal way we’ve been doing so far.

“So neither of those protections are realistic. If we were realistic about it, we could do things like removing sale as a reason for eviction. We could do things like preferential tax subsidies for forever tenancies and landlords who are happy to have extended tenure.

“We could do like preferential capital gains tax rates if you want to sell to any State body. We could do things like better financing for State purchase and for rental and more creation of that.”

She said “none of those things have been put in place during the eviction ban”.

“I just think this is a completely heartless decision. I know my constituency is not unique, but I can tell you the impact this is going to have. And homelessness services are already beyond breaking point,” Ms Hourigan added.

The chair of the Green Party has said she is “disappointed” with Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan’s criticism of the decision to end the eviction ban, which went to cabinet this morning.

Reacting to Ms Hourigan’s comments, Ms O’Reilly told The Irish Times: “If it was me I wouldn’t have gone out until I had all the facts, and it was clear Neasa didn’t have all the facts.”

The Green Party is holding a briefing later on the decision, she said, and it is “disappointing to go before having all of the facts”.

She said she had confidence that party leader Eamon Ryan had “represented the party properly” and that in light of advice from the Attorney General on the legality of extending the ban, “we have to act legally in accordance with the law”.

While no Dáil vote is upcoming on the eviction ban decision, Ms O’Reilly said the party takes its position in Government “seriously” and that voting against the Government would be taken seriously, especially if it was a repeat event.

“We have to take our position in Government seriously, and everyone is probably aware that each time someone does something there are greater sanctions, but we’re certainly not at that point.

“We’re all expected to vote with the Government, and we made that abundantly clear the last time someone voted against the Government.”


Meanwhile, members of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party have requested a briefing on the decision to end the ban.

Senator Mary Fitzpatrick, chair of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party housing policy committee, said she had requested a “detailed briefing… on the Cabinet decision on the eviction ban at the earliest opportunity”.

She said that the party’s TDs, Senators and Councillors are “very engaged on all housing issues, increasing housing supply, affordability and preventing homelessness”.

“The ban on evictions has significant implications. Last year we got Government approval for local authorities to buy rental properties where the landlord is selling and the tenants qualify for social housing. We need a similar ‘tenant in-situ’ measure for tenants who don’t qualify for social housing – so a form of ‘affordable tenant-in situ’ and a regulation of short-term lets in Dublin.”

She said TDs, Senators and Councillors had contacted her about the lifting of the ban, including Dublin North West TD Paul McAuliffe and Senator Eugene Murphy, who were among those with queries.

Waterford TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh said he had hoped the eviction ban could be extended but said “it seems that the strong advice from the Attorney General was that it wasn’t legally tenable to do so”.

He said there needs to be a strong Government response in terms of measures to help tenants and he expects the parliamentary party to be briefed on them today.

Mr Ó Cathasaigh said his “broad sense” is that they are “positive measures” including “enhancing our cost rental sector”, which he said was a Green Party innovation in this Government.

He rejected Ms Hourigan’s suggestion that Green Party values were not represented when the decision on the eviction ban was made by the Coalition leaders. He said the party leader “has consistently been a vocal and effective Green voice in the room for a decade and more”.

Green Party Minister of State Joe O’Brien said he expects there will be “problems in the short-term” following the lifting of the eviction ban, and that he wants to see interim measures put in place to support people who may become homeless in the wake of the decision.

He argued that the Government’s room for manoeuvre on the issue had been limited by legal advice on extending the ban in its current form. He said he wanted a ban on evictions to be maintained on as many grounds as possible.

“I had hoped that the ban would be extended, I had been advocating for some kind of middle ground. I am not sure whether there is scope still to maximise the number of grounds where eviction can be banned, but that’ll be the case I’ll be making as we go forward”.

He said he wanted to see the full Cabinet decision when it emerged, but that the ban had not had the same effect as during Covid in terms of preventing homelessness. “I think there are going to be problems in the short term, and again I’d like to see what’s coming out of that full Cabinet decision today in terms of the immediate actions and additional actions we need to take in terms of those people who may be made homeless over the coming months”.

He said the Government was “limited by the legal situation and the legal context that we are in”, and that he would reserve his “final opinion” until he saw the detail of the Cabinet decision.

“I had hoped it would stay in place, recognising the fact that there was always a good chance that we would be told legally it was going to be problematic, and I was certainly advocating that if there was some way to legally do it, that we would have a tapering of the grounds on which people could be evicted. I don’t know if that’s still possible at the moment, but it’s certainly something I’ll be looking into.”

The Greens’ parliamentary party would be briefed on the decision in more detail shortly, he said.

Mr O’Brien was speaking at an event to mark the expansion of the Empowering Communities Programme to the Cherry Orchard area. The programme targets area-based deprivation and aims to empower local communities in their response to poverty. It will see a community engagement worker recruited for the area who will work on relationships between stakeholders, community groups and statutory agencies.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times