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'I have no intention of making a habit of this': Neasa Hourigan plans to stay in the Green Party after being sanctioned

It follows a vote from the parliamentary party overnight.

Image: Sam Boal

THE GREEN PARTY has moved to sanction TD Neasa Hourigan after she voted against the Government’s Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill. 

The party will also sanction TD and Minister of State Joe O’Brien who abstained during the vote. 

In a statement this morning, a Green Party spokesperson said: “The Parliamentary Party of the Green Party met following the final vote last night. The group decided to sanction Deputy Neasa Hourigan and Minister of State Joe O’Brien for voting against the Government and abstaining. 

“Both have had their speaking rights removed for two months.”

The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill is set to replace emergency pandemic protections for renters from 1 August but has been widely criticised by opposition parties. 

Hourigan voted against a number of amendments to that bill before eventually voting against the Bill outright. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney Hourigan said government’s legal advice that the rent freeze and ban on evictions could be rolled over, Hourigan said she would have preferred the courts adjudicate on that.

In the meantime, people should be given the greatest possible protection and that could be done by extending the ban to January, she said.

Hourigan said she wanted to remain as member of the Green Party, and she hoped there was still space for her in the party.

The Dublin TD then resigned as party whip – a role which at its core involves ensuring all TDs vote in line with their party’s position – and said the legislation does not “sufficiently recognise the risks” for renters associated with the pandemic. 

In a statement yesterday she said: “I hold significant concerns as to the impact of the government legislation on people living in precarious tenancies”.

“The government’s legislation does not offer enough protection for renters on eviction due to sale, recognised as a driver of homelessness, nor does it sufficiently recognise the risks posed by the rent arrears accrued during the pandemic,” she said.

“I had made my concerns known to my colleagues at the beginning of the week.”

She said this morning that her partners in government must find it “trying at times” dealing with her, but “at the same time, your vote counts and on this issue”. 

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Hourigan said the government should be open to accepting amendments put down by the opposition if they serve the public good.

She said the rental Bill should not be described as an “easy one” because this legislation affects families who need a home and permanent tendencies. 

Asked would she vote the same way when the legislation may need to be renewed in January, Hourigan said she hoped the same proposal wouldn’t be pushed again next year. 

While she couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t vote the same way next year, she said:

“I have no intention of making a habit of this, I think this was a very specific bill and that there was good amendments tabled that should have been accepted, and every piece of legislation, you know, we have to work on… my point is is that I’m hoping in the autumn, there’s more time [to debate legislation].”

It marks the end of a troubled start for the new Government with the Dáil now going into recess for six weeks and not returning until mid-September. 

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