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Neasa Hourigan Sam Boal/
Green Party

Neasa Hourigan says she will vote against the coalition on extending the eviction ban

Hourigan has previously been suspended from the party for voting with the opposition.

LAST UPDATE | 19 Mar 2023

GREEN PARTY TD Neasa Hourigan has said she will vote against the government in a motion to extend the eviction ban.

In an op-ed for the Sunday Independent, the Dublin Central TD said the vote is not about ideology or policy but “process [and] mindset”.

She wrote: “The row over the ban in the last few weeks can be traced back to many issues — but ideology is not one of them. In truth, there is very little difference between the policy positions of the parties in Dáil Éireann — and when we come to vote on the Sinn Féin motion to extend the ban this Wednesday, it is not ideology that will be the dealbreaker.

“We, like many nations in Europe, have learned the hard way that only the State is likely to provide the kind of counter-cyclical investment and building required to deliver a steady stream of homes.

This vote is not about policy. It is about process, about mindset. It’s about a sense of urgency, and about what this housing crisis looks like on the ground. It’s about priorities.

Hourigan is a frequent critic of the government, in which the Greens are a junior partner. She was previously suspended from the party from her for voting against the coalition on an issue related to the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital.

In 2020, she was sanctioned by the party after she voted against the Government’s Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill.

Just Transition Greens motion

Green Party chair Pauline O’Reilly said voting with the government is “the price you pay for going into government.”

Last month, the Green Party council voted for a motion from the Just Transition Greens group to uphold the ban on evictions until the government can see through a significant policy intervention in the housing sector.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One today, O’Reilly said: “I don’t think it’s realistic for anyone to say that if the members of one of the three [government] parties decide something that it automatically becomes government policy.”

“It’s my belief that there will be sanctions and they will go beyond previously [sic].”

She declined to say whether Hourigan would face a “three strikes and you’re out” reprimand.

Hourigan wrote in the Independent: “There are hundreds of children in my constituency who are homeless, or facing homelessness through eviction next month. There are no more hotel rooms in which to place them.”

She disputed criticism that the eviction ban was “storing up further difficulties for a later date”, arguing that the ban “was never there to deal with any of those issues.

“Its purpose was to provide a breathing space for policy-makers to enact changes that would benefit both tenants and landlords alike.”

She added: “The decision to let the ban expire was entirely unexpected.

“There is still no transparency around how the decision was made — or what, if any, measures to mitigate the terrible impacts of the decision were discussed. The proposals, hastily announced, were not detailed.

Private landlords are not at fault in this. They are chastised as the evictors — but really, they are the fall guys, providing a service that the State has failed to adequately provide for decades.

The coalition will be left with a majority of just one if Hourigan votes in favour of the Sinn Féin motion.

In addition to that motion, Labour leader Ivana Bacik has also said her party will table a vote of no confidence in the government at the end of the month, just before the eviction ban is due to end.

She concluded: “To achieve stable government all coalitions require compromise. As someone who has had to vote in ways I have often thought were not sensible, or not in the best interests of my constituents, I’m more aware of this than most.

“But coalition niceties don’t count for much on the ground in Dublin Central, when all around you families are facing a life on the street.”

A Green Party government spokesperson said: “Green Party TDs are expected to vote in line with the Government. The parliamentary party will discuss this matter over the coming days.”

A party source said the Greens’ priority is ensuring that a safety net for renters in the form of first refusal is implemented as quickly as possible.

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