Dail set for showdown over the housing crisis

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Public wrangling over the housing crisis is to reach a climax later this month when Sinn Fein submit puts forward a motion of no confidence in Fine Gael’s Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy.

The motion will be debated in the Dublin parliament on Tuesday, 25 September.

Speaking outside Leinster House, Sinn Fein spokesperson for housing Eoin O Broin (pictured, left) said: “Eoghan Murphy has been in office for 15 months and what have we seen? A 25% increase in homelessness, a 34% increase in child homelessness, a 40% increase in pensioner homelessness.

“The core of this is as follows - the problem is Rebuilding Ireland, the government’s plan, is not working.” He added that “a credible minister” would go to Cabinet and say “we need a change of plan”.

“Instead, what is Eoghan Murphy doing? He’s criticising everybody else for his own failures and he’s failing his policies are working,” Mr O Broin said. “Our view is very clear, he has to go.”

In response, the Minister (right) accused Sinn Fein of engaging in “a stunt” that “will not take a single person off our streets”.

Earlier this month, Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin said his party will not support the motion. Speaking on RTE state radio, Martin said he had an obligation to support the minority Fine Gael government, which depends on Fianna Fail for its survive.

Latest figures show that the number of homeless people and families in the State has increased to a record new level. The Department of Housing has recorded that there were 6,024 adults and 3,867 children in emergency accommodation during the week of 23-29 July.

This represents a decrease of 24 adults but an increase of 43 children on the previous month, meaning an overall increase of 19 people. The number of families affected also increased from 1,754 to the latest number of 1,778.

When asked when enough will be enough in terms of the rise in homeless figures, Martin said his party was “committed to the confidence and supply”.

He said the rise in the homeless figures is “an indictment of the government and its failings and we’re going to use the budget to try and bring in a fundamental change of direction”.

Eoin O Broin said that he was deeply disappointed by Martin’s “very quick decision to reject the Sinn Fein motion”.

“There’s going to be a real cost if he continues to support Eoghan Murphy and ‘Rebuilding Ireland’, and that cost will be increased homelessness, longer housing waiting lists, increased unaffordability and the housing crisis is going to get worse and worse,” he said.

“It’s time for Micheal Martin to put up or shut up,” he said. “He either stands with the people who are suffering from Murphy’s failures or he continues to support a failing minister and a failing housing policy”.

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith said her party would be supporting the Sinn Fein motion.. She said it would “separate the men from the boys” so we could “see who means business when it comes to tackling the housing and homelessness crisis”.

She said there was “a great contrast” between the government’s violent approach to housing activists, as seen in Dublin on Tuesday, and the lack of action by the Department of Housing.

But she was hopeful of change, and noted that movements involving primarily young people had been able to make a difference in the past.

“No confidence in and of itself doesn’t mean much, but it’s symbolic of how politically the Dail feels about the housing crisis... We should see the no confidence motion as part of a wider campaign to bring it to the pinnacle of political concern in this country.”

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