A motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien which is due to be tabled this week has been dismissed by the Government as a “stunt”.
The motion has been tabled by People Before Profit with a countermotion expected from the Government on Tuesday evening.
Fianna Fáil Chief Whip Jack Chambers predicted that the Government’s counter motion would pass by a comfortable majority.
“This is a pre-Christmas stunt. It is cynical game-playing. It is focusing on the person rather than the overall policy,” Mr Chambers said.
I’m renting the home of my emigrant brother. What are the tax implications if he signs it over to me?
“Minister [for Housing] Darragh O’Brien has been absolutely focused and sincere on delivering on housing. We have seen a massive scaling up of the State’s investment in social and affordable housing, a budget of €4bn a year.”
Mr Chambers said the Government has a “strong working majority and it is my responsibility as Chief Whip to ensure that continues”.
“The Government will win the confidence motion this week. You will see the numbers when we get the outcome on Tuesday.”
The People Before Profit-Solidarity motion seeks to highlight the “failure of the Government to deliver on the worsening housing and homelessness crisis which is tearing apart the social fabric of Irish society and leading to the scapegoating of refugees and International Protection applicants”.
It will also say that the Government’s “catastrophic failure” on housing is being exploited to whip up racist and anti-refugee sentiment.
People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy said on RTÉ's The Week in Politics: “We need to get rid of this Housing Minister, his housing policy, and this Government because they have fundamentally failed and they are set to continue on this track of failure.
“If we are going to address this crisis which is now affecting health, education as well as the people that are homeless, then we need a fundamental change.”
The motion is being tabled as the number of homeless people reaches record highs, with more than 11,300 people now in emergency accommodation.
Mr O’Brien is one of the few Ministers who has been told he will be retaining his portfolio as part of the looming Cabinet reshuffle accompanying the change in Taoiseach this coming Saturday, December 17th.
Backing the motion of no confidence, Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said “we have record levels of rent, record house prices and record levels of homelessness, and the one thing the Government was clinging to in terms of commencements is also falling”.
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Mr Chambers also said that Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan, who was due to lead the Irish negotiation team during the final days of Cop15 on biodiversity, will go to the summit later than planned in order to vote.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week defended Mr O’Brien and said he “has been a Minister for just over two years now. I think we have seen significant progress and a lot of areas”.
He said that there will be 28,000 new homes built this year, the highest in over a decade but accepted the numbers of people falling into homelessness are going the wrong way.
“Sadly, we are going in the wrong direction in some things like homelessness but that can be turned around,” Mr Varadkar said.
“ I think to target the Minister is wrong. I know him personally, I know him as a colleague. I know he’s working really hard. I know he’s doing absolutely everything he can to improve the situation when it comes to housing.”
Mr Varadkar said the Minister for Housing has the “full support” of Fine Gael.