New policies will go hand-in-hand with a decision to extend or end the eviction ban Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said.
Speaking to reporters in Dublin on Thursday, Mr Donohoe said whatever decision was made will be “accompanied by policies to make that decision work and to recognise the trade offs involved in it”.
He said the Government was evaluating the future of the ban, and that the Coalition was “aware” that the decision had “played a very important role in minimising evictions” but he said he had to bear in mind what impact it would have on the ability to encourage “new landlords to come into the rental sector in the time ahead”.
“All ministers involved in these decisions are aware of these trade offs and no decision has been made on it yet,” he said.
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He said it was a “very good” idea to conduct a review of how Covid was handled in Ireland. “I certainly believe a debate, a review and an inquiry is appropriate”.
He said he had not given the nature of the inquiry any thought yet but he was “not sure” it would require powers of compellability because he felt anyone who was involved in decision making would “welcome being involved in it and should be involved in it”.
“I believe I would have an important role to play ... in explaining the context of our decisions and the difficulty involved in them, and the issues we were grappling with.”
He said it would be a contribution “to understanding the level of immense challenge our country faced and how we can minimise that in the future when, God forbid, we have to deal with another health risk”
He said he would voluntarily make available any records or materials he had. He said he does not do Government business by WhatsApp and texts, and said decisions were made so quickly, often informed by “phone calls [and] very frequent and very difficult meetings”.
“In the round, any records I have available, I’ll definitely use them and make them available,” he said, adding that “anybody involved would want to participate voluntarily”.
He said records of the time would “show faithfully” the “huge challenge and difficulty we were in”.
“I can’t speak for anybody else but I genuinely believe when such an inquiry is set up, regardless of the format, anybody who was called would participate fully in it, and I know I would.”
“I hope our country doesn’t face a challenge like this again, but it will. And when that happens, we all have a duty to make sure we have looked back and see what we have learned.”
Mr Donohoe was delivering the Henry Grattan lecture to the Trinity College Dublin School of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
In his address, he said Europe has defied the expectations of an age of “permacrisis”.
Mr Donohoe said the European Union has been resilient in the face of what has been called a permacrisis – defined as a period of instability and insecurity resulting from a series of catastrophic events.
He told the audience that while Europe has been hit by “large shocks” like the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, “the periods of stability and growth in between have also been strong and these periods are not the result of chance, but influenced by good economic and political decisions”.
Speaking in his capacity as President of the Eurogroup, a position to which he was re-elected last year, Mr Donohoe said that the Euro area has “both politically and economically demonstrated its resilience over the past few years”.
He recalled being on an early morning flight to Paris to attend a meeting of Ecofin, the Finance Ministers of the European Union, in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There was an “all-permeating mood of gloom and despondency”, he said.
However, he said he was struck by the “absolute determination” of members of Ecofin, and the “passion” of Eastern European members to “stand up for our shared European values”. He pointed to heavy Government borrowing and intervention by the ECB during the pandemic as an important development, with economic policy throughout the last three years in the Eurogroup being “exceptionally co-ordinated, supportive and agile”.
He warned that a narrative of permacrisis “conveys a sense of chaos, uncertainty and a lack of hope”.
“I would argue that our governments, citizens and institutions have responded to these shocks. Our economies were confronted with terrible challenges, but we recovered strongly and quickly and crucially, given much of the negativity, ahead of expectations,” he said.
Mr Donohoe said that shocks, due to the more interconnected nature of countries and economies, transmit faster and that states in turn have to respond more quickly.