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'This is not the right choice' - Catherine Byrne speaks, but no word on whether she'll support Eoghan Murphy tomorrow

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is facing a motion of no confidence in the Dáil tomorrow evening.

Updated Sep 24th 2018, 10:45 PM

1023 New Homes_90549967 Minister Eoghan Murphy and Junior Minister Catherine Byrne Source: Leah Farrell

JUNIOR FINE GAEL Minister Catherine Byrne has released a statement amid confusion as to whether or not she will support her party colleague Eoghan Murphy in a motion of no confidence tomorrow.

Byrne had raised objections to a prospective housing development in her constituency of Inchicore, and reports had suggested that she would abstain during tomorrow’s vote of no confidence over Housing Minister Murphy.

This evening Byrne has released a statement stating that she ‘of course’ wishes to see the Inchicore site developed, but that the development in question, a ‘large-scale, high-density apartment development’ in Byrne’s words, is not ‘the right choice’.

“Inchicore is a great community but we are currently battling huge social problems on a daily basis,” she said.

“Before any development can begin, we need investment in the area to ensure that we have the services and amenities to support those who already live here, as well as those who want to come here and become part of our community into the future.”

Murphy is expected to speak to Byrne before the motion tomorrow in an attempt to copperfasten her support.

Speaking earlier today in New York, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar indicated that, should a government minister vote against the administration with regard to a motion of no confidence, he would have little choice but to sack them.

The vote of no confidence will take place in the Dáil tomorrow evening.

Today’s Irish Independent reported that Byrne told her ministerial colleagues that she is considering supporting or abstaining on the motion.

Sources close to the housing minister said Byrne has not indicated her intentions to his office. 

Byrne recently fell out with the housing minister when she hit out against the housing plan which was announced by Murphy at a public meeting in July. 

Murphy defended the plans to put 470 new homes in Inchicore, but Byrne said that the plan “looked like overdevelopment” and described it as a “bad day for the community”.

The plan for the regeneration of the St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore will see a new community constructed on land owned by Dublin County Council.

The final mix of the new homes is yet to be decided, but is expected to include 140 homes classified as social housing and 330 other houses, mostly provided under a Cost Rental model.

Under the cost rental scheme, housing is built ensure that rents are based on the cost of providing, financing, building, and maintaining the development, rather than to maximise profit.

After their disagreement was aired in such a public manner, it is understood the Murphy had a series of engagements with Byrne over the summer, with sources stating the housing minister still believes he can convince her of the merits of more affordable homes for the site. 

Murphy has accused Sinn Féin of “playing bad politics” and being “totally devoid of solutions” on housing and therefore the party has decided to submit a motion of no confidence in him.

Sinn Féin’s motion in the housing minister is due to be voted on tomorrow evening. 

Outlining why he is submitting the motion, Ó Broin said:

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“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.”

He added that “a credible minister” would go to Cabinet and say “we need a change of plan”.

Fianna Fáil has decided to abstain on the vote, with party leader Micheál Martin stating that a motion of no confidence will not build any more homes. 

With the Dáil numbers tight, the Taoiseach will need every government TD in the chamber to ensure the motion is defeated.

With reporting from Cianan Brennan

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