Only two Galway TDs voted to change housing policy

Galway daily news Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaders agree on framework for government

Only two Galway TDs voted in support of a motion of no confidence in current housing minister Eoghan Murphy during Tuesday’s Dáil vote.

Catherine Connolly of Galway West and Michael Fitzmaurice of Galway-Roscommon supported the motion, which comes in the midst of a severe housing crisis and widespread criticism of perceived government inaction.

The motion called for the Government to accept the failure of the two-year-old Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness and remove Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy from office.

Murphy has held the position for 15 months.

The motion – led by Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin of Dublin Mid West – also called for a new housing plan to provide affordable public housing and tackle homelessness with less of a reliance on emergency accommodation.

It narrowly lost by ten votes, 59 to 49.

Notably, two independent Galway TDs were among those who supported the Fine Gael government’s handling of the crisis.

Seán Canney (Galway East) and Noel Grealish (Galway West) both voted against the motion despite not being tied to a political party.

Galway’s Fianna Fáil TDs chose to sit out the vote, with Éamon Ó Cuív (Galway West) and Anne Rabbitte (Galway East) both recorded as not present.

More than 20 TDs absented themselves during the vote, mostly from Fianna Fáil.

The rest of the party abstained.

“I have no hesitation in supporting this motion,” Catherine Connolly said.

“I have been here for just over two and a half years, and I have listened to three successive Ministers…All three have one thing in common; they relied utterly on the market to provide.”

Connolly called the current housing policy “appalling” and noted that the market sees homes as commodities for profit.

Among the solutions she offered were for the government to recognise housing as a human right and to use public land to build public housing.

“There is a serious emergency and we require a serious solution that [the Minister] is not giving us,” she added.

Deputy Fitzmaurice commented:

“The reality is there is chaos in every aspect of housing currently. In fairness, no Minister can click his or her fingers and build houses overnight. Sadly, the figures that have come out over the past two years have been lies and damned lies.”

He cited “false figures” for house builds and “major discrepancies” in the government’s numbers as reasons for supporting the motion.

Dublin Mid West TD Eoin Ó Broin introduced the motion by stating that both Deputy Murphy and the Rebuilding Ireland housing policy have failed.

“Since the plan was published over two years ago homelessness has increased by 60%, child homelessness has increased by 77% and pensioner homelessness has increased by an unimaginable 80%…

“This is the reality of Rebuilding Ireland. Behind every statistic is somebody’s brother, sister, mother or father. Every one of the more than 10,000 homeless people, including the 4,000 children who will sleep tonight in emergency accommodation, is being failed by Deputy Eoghan Murphy and his housing plan.”

Deputy Murphy responded that the crisis 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.

“Progress will not always be linear and we will face setbacks. However, real, tangible progress is being made in terms of homes being built…

“More new homes will be provided this year than in any year in the past decade. Over 20,000 new places to live in will be delivered and still we have more to do. My job as Minister is to get it done but I will not be distracted by populist nonsense that contributes nothing to the challenges that we face,” he said.