Pressure on Coalition as Sinn Féin eviction ban motion to bring matters to a head

Inside Politics: Despite brave faces, Ministers know decision to let measure lapse is deeply unpopular with public

It’s not a motion of no confidence, but a Sinn Féin motion on evictions is set to pile the pressure on Government nonetheless.

Sinn Féin will today table the motion which seeks to extend the eviction ban until 2024, and the Coalition finds itself on shaky territory as formerly reliable Independents take issue with the decision to let the ban lapse at the end of this month.

The Opposition will today ramp up the political pressure as the Sinn Féin motion on the topic brings matters to a head.

Normally, the Government is assured of support from a not insubstantial number of Independent politicians.


TDs from the eight-member Regional Independent Group, which contains high-profile deputies like Denis Naughten, Michael Lowry, Verona Murphy and Cathal Berry, have backed the Government in key Dáil votes in the past.

But members of the group who spoke to The Irish Times on Monday remained undecided on how they will vote, suggesting they are waiting until they see what the Government puts on the table in response to the Sinn Féin motion. The motion will be debated this evening, and a vote will be held tomorrow.

Government figures were last night expressing confidence that the Coalition will comfortably win the vote. There will be a political price, however.

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan has already indicated she will vote with Sinn Féin against the Coalition - a move that would most likely see her lose the party whip once again, at the very least.

As Cormac McQuinn explains in his piece, if Hourigan is suspended it would bring the Government’s numbers down to 80, leaving it with an official majority of just one TD.

Another Green TD, Patrick Costello, has within the last fortnight suggested that the eviction ban should continue. He is yet to declare publicly whether he will back the Government in Wednesday’s vote. Costello previously lost his party whip for six months along with Hourigan after they voted in favour of a Sinn Féin motion on the National Maternity Hospital.

Over the weekend, the Green Party was suggesting that the sanctions could be substantial for TDs who vote against the Government. Much as they try to put a brave face on it, Ministers know that the decision to let the ban lapse is deeply unpopular with the public. Exactly how damaging it proves to be remains an outstanding question. Keep an eye on today for updates and breaking news.

Racism, Garda numbers and commemorations

The Cabinet meets this morning, with a few interesting memos up for consideration.

Minister for Justice Simon Harris will bring plans to recruit another 1,000 gardaí into the force.

Ministers will also this morning discuss plans for a new anti-racism strategy, as well as proposals for the decade of commemorations programme.

Harris will tell Ministers of a new recruitment campaign for An Garda Síochána, which will open this Friday and last three weeks.

The campaign will help recruit 1,000 new gardaí this year and aims to secure a strong pipeline of recruits into the Garda college into the future.

Harris will tell Cabinet that the first candidates from the new campaign will be ready for interview by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) by July. The PAS will increase its current capacity to allow 400 interviews per month, and this will ensure a larger flow of candidates through the later stages of the recruitment process.

Meanwhile, Minister for Culture Catherine Martin will bring a memo on this year’s decade of commemorations programme.

Minister for Children and Equality Roderic O’Gorman will also bring to Cabinet a new National Action Plan Against Racism. The plan will be launched this afternoon.

In 2020, the Government established an anti-racism committee. This was part of Ireland’s response to the UN call for global action to eliminate racism.

Following the public consultation, the committee submitted its national action plan against racism in June 2022. The plan contains recommendations across a wide variety of areas to address racism and promote inclusion.

The committee’s plan proposed actions to help Ireland to become a place where the impacts of racism are acknowledged and actively addressed. The new anti-racism plan is aimed at eliminating racism in all its forms in all parts of Ireland. This includes antisemitism, islamophobia, racism that impacts on Travellers, and racism affecting people of African descent.

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First up will be Leaders’ Questions at 2pm, with Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the Regional Group and the Independent Group leading the charge. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will take questions after 3pm, before Government business is taken. It’s the Finance Bill 2023 up this week, which gives legislative effect to the taxation measures announced by the Government last month to help families and businesses deal with high energy prices and cost of living challenges. It legislates, for example, for the extension of the temporary reduction in VAT on gas and electricity, from 13.5 per cent to 9 per cent, to October 31st, 2023.

The main business of the day, as referenced, will be that Sinn Féin motion seeking to extend the eviction ban to 2024. The motion will be taken at 7.30pm before business moves on to parliamentary questions for Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin. The Dáil will adjourn late tonight, just before midnight.

The Seanad will resume tomorrow.

The committee rooms will be busy today, with the Sub-Committee on Mental Health meeting at 11am. At the same time, the Joint Committee on Education will hold a roundtable discussion on the future of science, technology, engineering and maths. An interesting one will be the Joint Committee on Housing, which meets at 3pm to discuss the much-hyped Government plans around the tenant in situ process, aimed at keeping renters in their homes.

At 3.15pm, the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs will hear from the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, to discuss the work and priorities for the Irish Defence Forces.

The best of the rest can be found here.