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Eoghan Murphy says no-confidence motion is a 'stunt' and expects to win vote this evening

The Housing Minister says the situation would be worse without the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan.

Minister Eoghan Murphy
Minister Eoghan Murphy
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

MINISTER FOR HOUSING Eoghan Murphy has said that the no-confidence motion tabled against him by the Social Democrats is “opportunistic” and “quite reckless”, as he expects the government to win the vote scheduled for this evening.

Murphy was interviewed by Bryan Dobson on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme and defended his record as minister while accusing the opposition of not offering solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis.

Speaking to the same programme, Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall said that what Murphy is doing as housing minister “is not working” and that the motion wasn’t about triggering an election.

“It’s about a sizeable number of TDs saying in the Dáil that they don’t have confidence in Eoghan Murphy,” she said. 

Homeless crisis

Murphy was named Minister for Housing in June 2017 after Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach. He replaced Simon Coveney who had held the role for just over a year, and had launched Rebuilding Ireland in 2016.

When Murphy took the role, there were 7,941 people in emergency accommodation in Ireland. 2,895 of these were children.

According to the most recent available figures for September 2019, 10,397 people were in emergency accommodation. 3,873 of them were children.

Despite the sharp rise in homelessness, Murphy defended his record on RTÉ this morning.

“Since I’ve been minister, more than 12,000 people have exited homelessness,” he said. “While there has been an increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation – and no one is happy with that – far many more people have been taken out of housing insecurity because of the work we have done.”

He said that in the 12 months prior to Rebuilding Ireland, the number of homeless children had risen by 50%.

In the past 12 months, Murphy said, that had risen by 1%. He is technically correct, as the number of homeless children in September 2018 was 3,829 and 3,873 in September 2019. However, since becoming minister the number of homeless children has risen by just under 1,000.

Murphy said that if Rebuilding Ireland hadn’t been put in place “that number would be much higher”. 

In the face of rising numbers, Murphy said that these figures were at risk of “exploding” a number of years ago before the government took action. “More than 50% of families are in emergency accommodation for less than 12 months,” he said.

In terms of housing delivered over the last few years, Murphy also defended the government’s record and said he had raised targets on social housing delivery when he became minister. 

He also criticised the Social Democrats for bringing the motion against him, accusing them of initiating it as a “stunt”. 

‘Entirely unambitious’

Shortall had earlier denied that the move was a stunt and said it was a motion “to force the government to take a different approach in relation to housing”. 

“We’re now in a situation where the housing crisis is affecting people in all walks of life,” she said. 

The Social Democrats co-leader said the government had been far too dependent on the private market to deliver housing, and its reliance on the housing assistance payment was not creating any more capacity in the housing system.

“The difficulty is the government has spent too little time concentrating on the issue of affordability,” she said, adding that the average price of a house in Dublin was €340,000 and out of reach of average workers.

Shortall said: “Government needs to drive down the cost of housing. We need to use public land to build affordable housing. 

This isn’t about triggering an election. The government is spinning that, it’s not the case.

TDs are due to start debating the motion of no confidence in Murphy in the Dáil from 8pm this evening. 

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Sean Murray

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