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Eoghan Murphy saved and Christmas election off the table as no confidence motion defeated

The motion was defeated by three votes.

THE MOTION OF no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy was defeated tonight by 56 to 53 votes. There were 35 abstentions. 

Fianna Fáil abstained from the vote, while TDs Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish and former minister Denis Naughten voted with the government. 

Following the results of the vote being announced, Sinn Féin called for a walk-through vote, where the vote is carried out again by TDs walking through the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ doors of the Dáil, instead of voting manually (as is done in the UK’s House of Commons).

The result of this vote was the same: 56 votes to 53.

During a debate on the motion, before the vote tabled by the Social Democrats, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the “motion tonight will not pass. It was never going to pass. It was a stunt”.

He accused the Social Democrats of using it to “get precious airtime on TV” around the time of a by-election.

Varadkar said the government has embarked on the largest social housing building programme in its history. However, the Taoiseach admitted that the latest homeless stats are “terrible and shameful”.

The motion of no confidence came on the same day the latest homeless figures were released. For the first time, homeless figures have increased to over 10,500.

The Department of Housing released homeless figures for October, indicating that there were 10,514 individuals homeless. That’s an increase of 117 on September’s figures, which Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said “was expected following the introduction of new emergency beds in the Dublin region recently”.

There was a decrease of 23 families and 47 children in emergency accommodation.

The Simon Communities said that there’s been an overall increase of 8.1% since October 2018, when the figure was 9,724.

During tonight’s debate, the Minister Eoghan Murphy defended his record and rounded on Róisín Shortall from the Social Democrats stating that she has spoken out against housing developments in her own locality. 

“Rebuilding Ireland is working,” he said. However, many opposition TDs disagreed with this statement. 

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald said Fianna Fáil are in government with Fine Gael, and shown that tonight by sitting on their hands and abstaining. 

She said the government is out of touch, stating that children wait for Santa in hotels and family hubs, while others pay €2,000 in rent each month.

Alternative solutions are needed, “not spin and bull” she told the Taoiseach. 

Labour Jan O’Sullivan, a previous housing minister, said she was under the Troika. But when the government money was available they put down social housing projects that have not been built under Fine Gael in government because of its policy of allowing private developers build on public land. 

Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien called the motion a “cynical manoeuvre” by the Social Democrats. He told the Dáil that voting no confidence in the minister would defacto bring down the government before Christmas. 

“We have put the country first before narrow party political gain,” said O’Brien.

Going down a more obscure road this evening, Meath TD Shane Cassells brought up the movie Love Actually in the Dáil. 

Reading out lines from the movie and highlighting the exchange between Billy Bob Thornton and Hugh Grant where Grant says the relationship has turned bad. 

Cassells said nights like to tonight “make us look at our relationship”. He says Fine Gael has failed in its housing policy. However, McDonald later questioned why Fianna Fáil was sitting on its hands if it disagreed with the government’s housing policies. 

Solidarity-People Before Profit and Rise TD Paul Murphy criticised Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as “landlord” parties, and compared Murphy to Boris Johnson.

“At what figure of homelessness do you think it would be ok to stop?” Independent TD Catherine Connolly asked. “What figure would make you see reality?”

Earlier this evening, a government spokesperson said that had tonight’s motion of no confidence passed in Eoghan Murphy, the government could not continue. 

He said tonight’s vote, was a “proxy vote” in the Taoiseach and the government, hinting that an election could be marked in for 28 December.

Tonight’s motion is not the first motion of no confidence Murphy has faced. 

In September 2018, a motion of no confidence tabled by Sinn Féin was defeated by 59 to 49 votes. There were 29 abstentions on the night. 

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