Sinn Féin looks to table new motion on eviction ban before measure expires at end of month

Vote to come amid recriminations in Green Party after TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan signals she will vote with Sinn Féin against Government

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin says it has a slot in private members’ time on Tuesday week and is 'considering all options' with a decision to be made later this week. Photograph: Tom Honan

Sinn Féin is considering another motion on the eviction ban before it expires at the end of the month as the Opposition seeks to maximise pressure on the Government.

The Dáil is already set to debate a Sinn Féin motion on extending the ban this week, which now looks to be the first in an attritional series of votes which will test the Government’s majority and resolve under sustained criticism.

On Sunday, the Labour Party said it would put down a motion of no confidence in the Government before the end of the month if it did not change course.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, said it had a slot in private members’ time on Tuesday week and was “considering all options for that” with a decision to be made later this week.


Green TDs to discuss plan for imminent Sinn Féin eviction ban motionOpens in new window ]

Focus will also now shift to Independent TDs, especially those who usually support the Government. The regional group, including TDs who regularly vote with the Government such as Kildare South’s Cathal Berry and Tipperary’s Michael Lowry, is assessing its options.

“There’s a lot of the Independents undecided as to how they will vote and what they will do, and we will make a decision after we’ve finalised our amendment,” Mr Lowry said on Sunday.

There were also indications that some high-profile Independents were likely to vote against the Coalition, on the Sinn Féin motion. The Irish Times understands both Kerry TD Micheal Healy Rae and Roscommon-Galway’s Michael Fitzmaurice are preparing to vote against the Government.

Several independent deputies who have tended to vote with the Government said they would reserve judgment until they see the Government amendment. They include former Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil deputies Joe McHugh and Marc MacSharry.

The Coalition dug in over the weekend, insisting its plans to introduce mitigations to offset the ending of the ban, followed by a budget-time overhaul of taxation of the rental sector, was sufficient.

Healy-Rae joins ranks voting against Government on eviction banOpens in new window ]

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath told The Irish Times on Sunday that the Coalition was “acutely aware of the considerable challenges surrounding the rental sector”, pointing to decisions made at the last Cabinet meeting.

He said the Department of Housing was working on a review of the rental market, and his officials were preparing “a range of options for consideration” on taxing the sector, and he would “bring forward proposals for implementation as part of the budget”.

This week’s vote comes amid recriminations in the Green Party after its TD for Dublin Central, Neasa Hourigan, indicated she would vote with Sinn Féin and against the Government.

Some in the Green’s parliamentary party believe Ms Hourigan should be hit with what they described as “the strongest sanctions”. She previously had the Green Party whip removed from her for six months when she voted against the Government.

Martin claims Ireland has ‘turned a corner’ on housing ahead of Sinn Féin motion on eviction banOpens in new window ]

“It’s absolutely not going to be six months [again],” one Green source said, claiming the parliamentary party was frustrated by the move. “Why should the Greens be in the middle of housing at the moment, when we’ve actually put forward solutions for tenants? (Minister for Housing) Darragh O’Brien is the one who should be in the middle of this.”

Other party sources said no decisions had been taken yet. The Greens will meet in the coming days to discuss the matter. Dublin South Central TD Patrick Costello, who has also voted against the Government, has been silent on his intentions. A spokesman said Green TDs “are expected to vote in line with the Government”.

Green Party threatens tougher sanctions against Neasa Hourigan if she votes against GovernmentOpens in new window ]

Party chair Senator Pauline O’Reilly told RTÉ on Sunday that the Greens had to send a signal to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil so their deputies would continue voting for Green policies.

The Government will put down an amendment to Sinn Féin’s motion, which will be the vote actually taken in the Dáil. The wording will likely be agreed on Monday, with Coalition leaders to meet to discuss the matter on Monday evening. A Government spokesman said it was “confident that its counter motion will be passed”.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

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