Government loses vote on crisis fund for tillage farmers

Ceann Comhairle saves Coalition from second embarrassing defeat on Evictions Bill

IFA members in Dublin calling for an urgent aid package for grain farmers affected by dire weather. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

IFA members in Dublin calling for an urgent aid package for grain farmers affected by dire weather. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government suffered an embarrassing defeat in a Dáil vote on an Opposition motion calling for a compensation fund to be established for tillage farmers.

It was spared a second defeat when Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl cast his vote for the Government when it was tied 51/51 on legislation to ban evictions of tenants when houses are being sold.

The Government and Opposition were deadlocked on the AAA-PBP private member’s Anti-Eviction Bill when Mr Ó Fearghaíl gave the casting vote to the Fine Gael/Independent minority Coalition.

In a first electronic vote the Government won by 50 to 49 but the Opposition then called a walk-through vote – through the “Tá” and “Níl” lobbies.

Fianna Fáil TDs – 35 of them in the chamber – abstained on the Bill, a key measure of which bans evictions when a house or apartment is being sold and the vote tied at 51, when Mr Ó Fearghaíl backed the Government.

The legislation was introduced by AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger, and as well as banning evictions when properties are for sale the Bill would, had it been passed, have prevented evictions if a landowner wanted the property for a family member.

Casting votes

Later the same year Mr Kirk saved the government again with his casting vote when Sinn Féin attempted to move the writ on the Donegal South West byelection.

Yet while spared in one vote on Thursday, the Government lost a second one on a Fianna Fáil Private Member’s Motion by 87 votes to 49.

The motion calls for the creation for a crisis fund of €4.5 million for farmers, particularly on the west coast, whose harvests were devastated last September and October.

During a two-hour debate on the tillage motion on Wednesday, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed had rejected the proposed scheme on the grounds that it was insufficiently focused. He promised to assist farmers with a more focused measure.

In the wake of the Fianna Fáil victory, the IFA called on the Minister to urgently reconvene the National Tillage Forum to deal with emergency aid.

Terms and conditions

The Government has lost a number of votes but they carry little political significance since under the confidence and supply arrangement Fianna Fáil supports the Coalition on motions of confidence and financial measures such as money Bills.

Fianna Fáil is unlikely to bring the Government down in the short-term.