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Eoghan Murphy keeps his job as motion of no confidence is defeated

In the end, Fine Gael’s Catherine Byrne backed her party colleague this evening.

Updated Sep 25th 2018, 11:00 PM

Screenshot 2018-09-25 at 20.34.04

THE MOTION OF no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy was defeated tonight by 59 to 49 votes. There were 29 abstentions. 

Fianna Fáil abstained from the vote, while TDs Michael Lowry, Noel Grealish, and Sean Canney voted with the government. TD Michael Harty abstained. 

During a debate on the motion in the Dáil this evening the minister said he would not be “hounded out of office” by personalised ad campaigns and personalised attacks against him.

The motion of no confidence was tabled by Sinn Féin due to an increase in the numbers of people who are homeless since his tenure.

Not only was he in the firing line from the opposition benches, Murphy was also facing criticisms from those within his own party following reports yesterday that junior Minister Catherine Byrne would abstain from voting for or against the motion.

This was due to a prospective housing development in her constituency of Inchicore which Byrne had raised her objections to.

Catherine Byrne’s support 

However, in a statement this evening, Byrne said she had a positive and constructive discussion with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Eoghan Murphy today.

In a statement issues a short time ago, she said: 

I believe that for any new housing development to be successful, investment in proper planning and community facilities is essential. We all want to live in a sustainable and safe community.
I will be supporting my Government colleague this evening. Over the days and weeks ahead I will continue to work constructively with all of my colleagues on the issues I have raised relating to housing and community development.
I am confident that working together we will agree a plan to identify the socio-economic needs of the Inchicore/Kilmainham area and create a stable and vibrant community for generations to come.

Addressing the Dáil this evening, in which there was a large Fine Gael turnout, Murphy began his speech by speaking about an upset woman he met at a family hub.

He said he apologised to her as she should not have had to present to emergency accommodation.

However, he said he told her that everyone who had lived in the family hub had gone on to be placed in a home. After he told her that, she said the woman was “brave, bright, and hopeful for the future”.

Murphy said it was his job to find solutions, but said the housing crisis would not be solved overnight. 

The minister hit out at Sinn Féin, stating that he won’t be hounded out of office and would not be forced into “making populist decisions”.

He added:

I am the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and I am responsible for fixing this crisis piece by piece and it is complex. Not everything has worked out like we hoped it would, such as the repair and lease scheme for example, but other initiatives have worked out better such as our fast track planning process.

‘Housing crisis getting worse’

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald Ireland is the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis that “has worsened every day this government is in office”.

“We all know the statistics. We all know the numbers. We also know that the reality is that there is no way to quantify the social and human cost of a crisis that now permeates every facet of Irish life. It’s not now a niche concern for one section or sector of society,” said McDonald. 

It affects the entirety of our society. Families live in absolute fear a hike in their rent could lead to homelessness. People have no real prospect of being able to afford their own home…
It is a litany of failure, and that is the record of Minister Eoghan Murphy. Solving it may represent the biggest challenge – the State can build homes. We can house our citizens. And we can deliver. It’ll only happen if there’s the political will to do. It starts at the top. It starts with the Minister for Housing.
We know he can’t perform miracles. In the midst of a crisis, people do deserve leadership and vision. They expect accountability. It’s not playing the man, it’s about holding the minister to account. We need a radical change of direction and a radical change of policy. 

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin told the deputies tonight that the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan is fundamentally flawed.

It is failing. It is making the problem worse. What a good Minister would do is face up to this reality. And go to cabinet and argue for a change of approach. The fact that Eoghan Murphy can not even see the failure in front of him demonstrates why he must go.

Fine Gael ministers rounded on Sinn Féin this evening. Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said Sinn Féin had a ”repugnant attitude” while Health Minister Simon Harris said:

Eoghan Murphy did not cause the housing crisis.

He added that the motion is a “nasty type of politics” that saw the rise of Brexit and Trump.

Fianna Fáil had already indicated that it would not be supporting the motion tonight, stating that motions of no confidence do not build houses.

The party’s housing spokesperson Darragh O’Brien said it was not the time to pull down the government, but said that it wanted a number of its ideas included in the upcoming budget. 

People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett said week in and week out, people come into constituency offices in tears because they are about to become homeless.

He said if a government can not ensure people have a house over their head, they do not deserve to be in office. 

“What kind of houses are you building,” asked Independent 4 Change Clare Daly, stating that none of the houses being built in Dublin are affordable. 

Towards the end of the debate, the discussion got heated, when Minister of State Michael Ring began a scathing attack on the Sinn Féin benches. He said he respected Murphy’s work ethic. 

“You are working on the problem and you are going to solve the problem,” he shouted. 

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty hit back by stating that as they debate went on and on, thousands of children remain in emergency accommodation, something he said will have a long-term impact on them as people, but also on society. 

Fine Gael very much showed a united front this evening, with veteran TDs such as Michael Noonan in attendance, as well as former Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

At the end of the vote this evening, Murphy was seen shaking the hands of those in the opposition benches who had supported him.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael colleagues were seen approaching  junior minister Catherine Byrne, patting her on the shoulder. Both Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty shook her hand. 

At the end of the long day and two-hour debate, there were just a handful of politicians left in the chamber, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his predecessor Enda Kenny in deep talk leaning up against the many statues in the Dáil. 

 

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