Eviction ban: Government defeats Sinn Féin Bill to extend measure by 81 votes to 67

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says extending the eviction moratorium not the solution and would make homelessness worse

The Government has defeated a Sinn Féin bill seeking to extend the eviction ban until January 2024 by a majority of 81 votes to 67 in the Dáil on Wednesday evening. Green TD Neasa Hourigan, who is suspended from the parliamentary party for 15 months after voting against the Coalition last week, voted against the Government.

Independent TDs Seán Canney, Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish, Denis Naughten and Danny Healy Rae voted with the Government, while former Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry voted against the Coalition.

The Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Bill 2023, put forward by Sinn Féin, sought to extend the eviction ban until January 2024.

The Government put forward an amendment to the proposed legislation which TDs voted on. The Coalition leaders decided earlier this month not to extend the moratorium on evictions, which will lapse from the end of this month on a phased basis.


Speaking earlier during Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the bill was “one last chance to stop thousands of people losing their homes”. Ms McDonald also accused the Government of “being all over the place” and “scrambling to defend an indefensible decision”.

The Dublin Central TD said the Government had put more energy into “ducking this vote than you have into providing a credible answer to the fundamental question which remains - where are people to go?”

The Sinn Féin leader said her colleague, Dublin Bay North TD Denise Mitchell, had spoken with a woman in her 70s who was facing eviction.

“Can you fathom the stress that this woman is going through facing homelessness in her golden years,” Ms McDonald said. “Is this really where we are now? Where is that woman to go?”

Ms McDonald added that the “clock is ticking down” and accused the Government of “playing with people’s lives”.

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said extending the eviction moratorium was not the solution and would make homelessness worse.

Mr Varadkar said the solution was more social housing, the tenant-in-situ scheme and tax changes to encourage landlords to stay in the market as well as homelessness prevention services.

The Fine Gael leader said he acknowledged there were a lot of people worried at the moment who had received a notice to quit in recent months.

“They’re fearful, they’re worried and in many cases experiencing real anxiety and I understand that,” Mr Varadkar said.

“What I don’t appreciate Deputy [McDonald] is you exploiting those fears, adding to them and seeking to amplify them. That is wrong.”

He said the vast majority of people who had been served notices to quit would find a new tenancy, with the help of Government, local authorities or a voluntary body.

Mr Varadkar said there were 52,000 new tenancies created over the last four quarters according to figures from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), despite Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin previously disputing the numbers.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times