Heated scenes and disappearing votes are just the start of Coalition’s spring-time woes

Inside Politics Digest: Government mettle to be tested in first of series of votes triggered by eviction ban lapse

Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin took to his feet in the Dáil last night and delivered his verdict on the Government’s decision to let the eviction ban lapse. In doing so, he hit upon a very real fear which is taking hold within the Coalition and amongst the public. Ó Broin, the party’s housing spokesman, told the chamber that the State was going to see levels of homelessness that “nobody ever thought was possible”.

This evening, a vote will be held on a Sinn Féin motion which seeks to extend the ban until 2024. Although Government figures believe they will win comfortably enough, by up to six votes, what Ó Broin said strikes to the heart of far bigger worries. There is a growing nervousness that the Sinn Féin vote is the thin edge of the wedge, and that what is to come over the spring will be far more damaging for the Coalition as evictions resume and the pressure increases.

The Opposition will not make life easy for the Coalition, and Labour have indicated they will indeed put down a motion of no confidence next week. In this piece this morning, the political team detail a number of other issues that will come to a head today.

The Government’s razor thin paper majority is set to tighten with Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan intending to vote with the Opposition this evening - a move likely see her lose the party whip again.


The Coalition will lose its official majority outright if she is joined in her rebellion by party colleague Patrick Costello. Ministers will come out fighting and will table an incredibly lengthy counter-motion, some of which is designed to shore up support amongst Independent TDs.

The text includes several measures proposed by members of the Regional Independent Group (RIG), some of whom have voted with the Government in the past. The Government have also promised that a series of protections for renters will be ready by April 1st, when the ban begins to be phased out. Another concession and major change seems to be that Fair Deal families could keep all their rental income in a move which could free up a potentially significant number of homes.

Meanwhile, here is The Irish Times view on the issue: a Government with such a slim majority needs to be rather more careful with it.

Has housing 'turned a corner'? Biden's welcome, Green Party disharmony

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Deal to put an end to post Brexit wrangling moves a step closer

Pat Leahy has the latest on the Windsor Framework this morning, and he reports that the House of Commons is now expected to vote in favour of the measure this evening. The Commons vote is expected to pass comfortably despite opposition from the DUP and some Tory Eurosceptics, while in Brussels, EU ministers yesterday approved decisions to implement the changes required by the framework.

“The deal, reached last month between prime minister Rishi Sunak and Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, is intended to put years of Brexit wrangling behind the EU and UK by finally agreeing on the arrangements which govern Northern Ireland’s special position,” Leahy reports here.

What is especially interesting is that despite the DUP’s decision to vote against the framework, there appears to be some optimism in both Dublin and London that the party will still consent to a revival of the power-sharing institutions at Stormont. The timing of this seems very much still up in the air, though.

Rishi Sunak has faced dissent in his party over the post-Brexit plans, with Tory Eurosceptic MPs arguing that the framework will undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom. The European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs also do not appear enamoured with the “green lane” plans to reduce checks on goods.

Nonetheless, the Tory whips were yesterday sounding confident about the vote, which commands the backing of Labour. Keep an eye, as ever, on irishtimes.com today as a deal to break the impasse moves ever closer.

Best Reads

Who exactly is the Dáil’s Blanchardstown Hillbilly, the little Westie child of Dublin 15? Miriam Lord casts her eye over Dáil proceedings here.

On Saturday, author Sally Rooney wrote an article for The Irish Times with the headline ‘Renters are being exploited and evictions must be stopped’. Here, Irish Times readers have their say.

Here is The Irish Times view on President Xi’s visit to Moscow.

A New York judge on Tuesday rejected former US president Donald Trump’s bid to delay the scheduled trial date in a civil fraud lawsuit being brought against him by the state attorney general, Letitia James. Read about it here.


Topical Issues takes first billing today, with questions scheduled for 9.12am. This will be followed by Private Members’ Business at 10am. Here, we will see the Independent Group bring a motion on the reform of the carer’s allowance scheme.

Leaders’ Questions is scheduled for noon. Sinn Féin will lead the charge, followed by Social Democrats, People Before Profit-Solidarity, and the Rural Independent Group. There will then be questions on policy and legislation around 12.34pm, where politicians get the chance to inquire about promised reforms.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will take questions just after lunch, and then at 1.50pm there will be statements on the pre European Council Meeting of 23rd-24th March. Government business is slightly after 5pm, with the Health (Amendment) Bill 2023 up for consideration. This is an interesting Bill: it provides for the abolition of public in-patient charges in all public hospitals. The Dáil will adjourn at 9.05pm.

In the Seanad, commencement matters will be taken at 12.30pm. At 3.15pm, the Historic and Archaeological Heritage Bill 2023 is up. This piece of legislation seeks to modernise Ireland’s archaeological heritage laws. It seeks to strengthen the protection of Ireland’s monuments and archaeological objects. Private Members’ Business is up at 5pm, with the Animal Health and Welfare (Dogs) Bill 2022 scheduled. This bill seeks to facilitate the rehoming of seized dogs in certain circumstances and to amend the licensing of dogs.

The Seanad adjourns around 8.30pm.

Another busy day beckons in the committee rooms.

The Joint Committee on Enterprise will discuss the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the start-up environment in Ireland. Representatives from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, and Scale Ireland, will be present.

At 9.30am, the Joint Committee on Health will have a discussion with the new HSE chief Bernard Gloster about his strategic priorities for the organisation.

At 5.30pm, the Committee on Budgetary Oversight will meet, and will hear from representatives from the ESRI.

The best of the rest can be found here.