Independent TDs who voted with the Government not to extend the eviction ban have “got their 30 pieces of silver” but have “turned their backs” on renters, Sinn Féin has said.
The party’s deputy leader Pearse Doherty pointed to its housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin’s introduction of a bill to extend the ban on no-fault evictions, which they will table for “second stage debate and vote next Tuesday”.
Mr Doherty said every single TD would have “one last opportunity to do the right thing” four days before “thousands of eviction notices fall due”.
The Government defeated Sinn Féin’s motion calling for the eviction ban to be extended, securing a majority of 83 votes to 68 in the Dáil on Wednesday evening.
Sinn Féin had put forward a private member’s motion calling for the eviction ban, which is due to expire at the end of this month on a phased basis, to be extended until January 2024. The Government put forward its own countermotion, with an amendment from the Regional Independent Group, which TDs voted on.
There were further sharp exchanges during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Thursday, where Mr Doherty said the Government had taken a “cold, cruel, heartless and calculated decision to make more citizens homeless right across the State in the coming months”.
“It was an absolutely despicable act, and one which the people in constituencies of every Government TD and every Independent [TD] who voted to enable these evictions will never, ever forget,” he said.
The Donegal TD said the eviction ban could and should be extended and there was “still a chance to avert the impending human catastrophe that is about to unfold”.
Mr Doherty said Mr Ó Broin’s bill, the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Bill 2023, would provide a “simple decision; do you stand with those renters who face eviction or do you vote to make them homeless”.
In response, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said extending the eviction ban indefinitely would do “far more harm than good” and would “exacerbate the homeless situation” and that the Opposition didn’t have “any ideas around housing”.
The Fianna Fáil leader said he had read an opinion piece from Mr Ó Broin in The Irish Times on Thursday and that his housing position was that “you speak to different audiences at different times with different messages”.
Mr Martin accused Sinn Féin of having a “make it up as you go along approach” in relation to housing.
Separately, Independent TD Verona Murphy became emotional in the chamber and said she wished to voice her “displeasure at having to sit here through a mockery of what has happened”.
“Nobody won anything yesterday, nobody, least of all our reputations to solve problems” she said.
“I have such a headache from listening to rubbish, there is no solution among any of you. All you want to do is bicker and blame somebody else and all of the things are in your control.”
The Wexford TD said there was a “serious issue” of 70,000 planning grants that have not commenced and would not commence until the Government “deals with the viability issue”.
“They’re [developers] not building houses because they’ve been given planning for houses that aren’t wanted, people don’t want to buy them, developers won’t build them,” Ms Murphy said.
“The only people that are buying these types of densities are housing bodies and county councils. You [Tánaiste] and your Minister [for Housing Darragh O’Brien] have failed to influence a policy that makes viability a planning consideration.”
Ms Murphy, a member of the Regional Independent Group (RIG), voted against the Government on Wednesday. She had requested a reduction in housing densities to allow for “viable” developments and to activate planning permissions.
“If I have one homeless child in Wexford, one child that isn’t accommodated, I’ll be bringing it here and it’ll be sitting on the Ceann Comhairle’s lap,” she added.