Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that Catherine Byrne has not spoken to him about a motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, but he warned that any move to vote against her ministerial colleague would lead to her resignation.
It follows reports that the Fine Gael TD for Dublin South Central is considering supporting a vote of no confidence in Mr Murphy this week.
“It’s of course the case that if a minister can’t express confidence in their own colleagues that they can’t continue as a minister,” Mr Varadkar said. “We’re a government, we’re collective, we make decisions together, and if a minister doesn’t have confidence in another minister and votes that way that obviously they couldn’t continue but as I say she hasn’t had that conversation with me yet.”
Mr Varadkar said he was due to meet Ms Byrne on Tuesday on his return from New York so “perhaps we’ll have a chance to speak about it then”. He said that it was often the case that ministers have objections to developments in their own areas, but “it is Government policy to build new houses”.
“We’re in a housing crisis, we need to build lots of new houses. It’s Government policy to have high density housing nearer to our cities and it’s Government policy to have mixed housing, social housing, affordable housing.”
Mr Varadkar noted that it would ultimately be a matter for Dublin City Councillors to decide if the project in Inchicore will go ahead.
“It’s not for me to block it, nor would I block such an important housing project even if I had the authority to do so.
“We are in a situation whereby we need to build lots of new homes. We built 14,000 new homes last year, we’ll probably build about 20,000 new homes this year. It’s not enough, we need to build more.”
He added that what was being proposed at the St Michael’s House site was “very much in line with Government policy . . . 500 new homes for people who need them and homes of all different sorts.”
Mr Murphy announced last July he was designating the site of the former council flat complex for the State’s first not-for-profit rental scheme.
Ms Byrne, Minister of State at the Department of Health, wrote to Dublin city councillors asking them to oppose the plans.
“You may have heard that I have stated my opposition to this plan on the basis that I believe the size and scale of this project represents over-development of the site,” the letter stated. “The plan as outlined proposes 30 per cent social housing units, 60 per cent cost-rental units, and ‘possibly’ 10 per cent affordable units for purchase.”