The Government has not put in place mitigation measures or a contingency plan to stop the “incessant rise of homelessness” over the coming weeks and months and therefore the eviction ban should be extended, Sinn Féin has said.
The party’s housing spokesman, Eoin Ó Broin, spoke of a woman in her 70s who has received a notice to quit which is due this Saturday and has “no family or friends to stay with”.
“Nobody should be in emergency accommodation, but particularly not a woman in her 70s who has worked her entire life, whose children have done well and are now living abroad‚ and she is left here to face the consequences of Minister O’Brien’s housing policy,” the Dublin Mid-West TD said.
Mr Ó Broin was speaking as the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Bill 2023 was being debated at Second Stage in the Dáil on Tuesday evening. The proposed legislation would extend the eviction ban, which is due to expire at the end of the month on a phased basis, until January 2024. There will be a vote on the Bill on Wednesday evening.
Mr Ó Broin said the “crucial” protection needed to be passed, as well as the Labour Party’s no-confidence motion in the Government. “We need a general election because we cannot keep going on, decade after decade, of failed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael housing policies, failed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael housing ministers and ordinary working people having to deal with the very real consequences of your decisions.”
His party colleague, Mairead Farrell, said people’s lives would be “thrown into absolute and utter turmoil” because of the Government’s decision not to extend the moratorium. The Galway-West TD said the “carefree and innocence of childhood” would be “totally shattered”, with families and parents worried about being evicted.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the Government was correct in ending the eviction ban. Mr O’Brien said the Sinn Féin Bill would shrink the number of households to rent, and accused the party of “playing politics” with the issue and “continually” changing its position on the ban.
Labour leader Ivana Bacik said it was “not too late” for the Government to reverse its decision and extend the eviction ban. The Dublin Bay South TD said she had heard from “several landlords” in recent days “pleading for the extension of the [eviction] ban”.
Ms Bacik said such landlords felt strongly about the “slowness” of the Government scaling up the tenant in situ scheme, as well as concern from renters about the “unexpected way” in which the ban’s lifting was announced.
The Labour Party will table a motion of no confidence in the Government on Wednesday morning, with a vote due to take place afterwards.
Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick said he would be supporting Sinn Féin’s Bill in order to mitigate the risk of homelessness. The Louth TD said last Friday there was no emergency accommodation in his constituency, “no hotel rooms, no b&b accommodation; nothing”.
Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae said extending the eviction ban would “only hurt the rental sector beyond repair” and TDs had to be careful not to cause any further harm to the sector.