#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 7°C Monday 12 April 2021
Advertisement

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan resigns as party whip after voting against government rental Bill

It is not yet clear if Hourigan will vote against the government on other amendments to the Bill.

Image: Leah Farrell

Updated Jul 30th 2020, 8:05 PM

GREEN PARTY TD Neasa Hourigan has resigned as the party whip after voting against the government’s Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill. 

While she has resigned as the whip, Houigan plans to remain in the party, though this will now be a matter for the parliamentary party to consider.

In a statement this evening, Hourigan said that she voted against the bill “because 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.”

Hourigan said that she recognised that her decision could lead to “negative repercussion”. 

However, she insisted that she wants to remain a Green Party TD and an “active member” of the government. 

“I want to work with my colleagues to progress legislation that protects the rights and dignity of all people in Ireland and enhances their quality of life during the difficult time of the pandemic and beyond,” she said. 

The bill, known as The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill 2020, is set to replace the emergency measures that were recently extended until 1 August.

The measures proposed by the bill include protections to renters who have fallen into rent arrears, giving them 28 days to pay owed rent before they can be evicted.

Rent increases for workers who are on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will be banned. 

Both of these measures will last until January 2021. 

The Labour Party amendment, which Hourigan supported, aimed to give the minister powers to extend the emergency period “having regard to the threat to public health presented by Covid-19″. 

IMG_9386

The second amendment she supported was a cross-party amendment which sought to remove any criminal sanction for those who fraudulently self-certify as experiencing financial distress.

The third vote she supported was a Social Democrats amendment which aimed to extend the rental protections to all tenants and not just those in financial trouble.

Hourigan voted for a fourth time against the government, backing a Sinn Féin amendment to extend the rental protection to all tenants and not just those in rental arrears.

The Dublin Central TD voted against the Bill as a whole after 6pm, which could lead to her being stripped of the whip by her party. 

Another Green Party TD abstained in the final vote.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

There was criticism this week that the Bill was not discussed at the Cabinet sub-committee on housing, which only met today for the first time. 

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien told the Dáil today that he will not be accepting any amendments to the Bill put down by the Opposition. 

The bill is not contained in the programme for government. 

Sinn Fein has also put down an amendment that would ensure that no notice to quit can be placed on grounds of a landlord seeking vacant possession to sell a property during the emergency period.

The Green Party manifesto committed to a ban on evictions due to sale. 

Legal advice received by the Simon Communities states the original ban was brought in as a response to a public health crisis, which is not yet over.

The dissent in government ranks will raise alarm bells for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

With reporting from Dominic McGrath

Read next:

COMMENTS (93)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel