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File photo of Eamon Ryan. Leah Farrell
housing policy

Eamon Ryan says he doesn't back Green TD's claim reinstating eviction ban 'akin to communism'

Minister Catherine Martin said husbands and wives don’t agree on everything.

LAST UPDATE | 6 Sep 2023

THE LEADER OF the Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan has said he does not agree with his housing spokesman’s assessment that re-introducing the eviction ban would be akin to “a communist state” – but defended the government’s decision to end the ban. 

Minister Ryan was questioned by reporters today on his way to a Cabinet meeting. He was asked if he agreed with comments made by Green Party housing spokesperson Francis Noel Duffy in the latest installment of The Journal’s Policy Matters series

In response to a question about reinstating the eviction ban, which was lifted by government earlier this year, Duffy said:

“Well then it turns into a communist state, that’s what you are talking about. So we purchase everybody’s property, is it?”

The comments prompted some backlash, with politicians both within the Green Party and outside the party reacting negatively to what Duffy said.

Speaking today, Ryan said he didn’t agree with the “Communist state” comments but said “the government made the right decision in relation to the eviction ban”.

“And that’s the important thing. And as I understand what Francis was saying was, was it was the right call.

I think it was because I think it actually could have done more damage to the rental sector, in the medium and long run, and therefore it was a hard decision but I think was the right decision from government.

Minister’s reaction to husband’s comments

Media Minister Catherine Martin, who is married to Duffy, was also asked today if she agreed with her husband’s comments about extending the eviction ban being akin to communism. 

“I think maybe what he was trying to say was that, you know, we live in a democracy, a constitutional democracy, where hard decisions were made,” he said, adding that it was a “balancing” of what is needed with people’s rights. 

She said it was one of the most difficult decisions the government had to take. 

When asked if she felt her husband’s language was unfortunate, as it garnered so much anger within the party, the minister said:  

“I think we all just have to be cognisant of the difficult situation so many renters are in, cognisant that this was a very difficult decision in a coalition government. We’re the smaller of the of the three parties,” she told The Journal.

“So it’s very hard to to get policy implemented in a three-party coalition, but you know, it may be party policy, but you know, we voted in that way to end the moratorium, as I said, a difficult decision, but we did it as members of a coalition,” she said.

“And, you know, at the end of the day, husbands and wives don’t agree on every single thing and that’s as far as I’ll go with that. But that’s a fact of life in a marriage,” she concluded. 

The Government faced strong criticism from opposition parties and civil society organisations for its decision to lift the ban earlier this year. Green Party members and fellow TDs have also been critical of the decision to lift the ban as well as of Duffy’s recent comments.

Speaking to The Journal earlier this week, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan said that Green Party members support the eviction ban and that its reinstatement is a part of party policy.

“The members support an eviction ban, that is the ratified policy of the party and it’s important that we communicate that clearly,” Hourigan said.

It’s also, for example, ratified policy of the party, that eviction for sale should not be allowed. So I think the frustration sometimes of members is that while of course being in government is difficult as a minority party, the least we can do is communicate clearly what our policies are

With reporting from Christina Finn

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