Government vote not to extend eviction ban is indefensible
- The Government still has time to table Labour’s bill on an emergency basis
- If the ban is not extended, Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the Government
Responding to Government and Independent TDs’ vote not to extend the eviction ban, Labour Leader Ivana Bacik TD has reiterated her call for the Government to table her Party’s emergency legislation to extend the eviction ban, on a temporary basis.
Deputy Bacik said:
“Government TDs’ vote in the Dáil today has confirmed what we already know: they do not have renters’ interests at heart, and they do not understand the magnitude of the social disaster we face due to homelessness and the lifting of the eviction ban. Families facing a cliff edge from 1 April have no safety net in place. Hastily announced measures from Government this week will do nothing for those who will lose their home at the end of this week. There is no emergency accommodation available.
“In recent weeks, all TDs and public representatives have been hearing heart-breaking stories from people who have been served a notice to quit. I am thinking of the young mother in my constituency who is distraught at the prospect of moving her children out of school because she cannot find an affordable place to rent in her own community, once her eviction notice takes effect. I am thinking of the man in his mid-60s, who is facing eviction, who asked me where he was going to get a mortgage. I am thinking of the elderly brothers who have been renting the same place for decades and their landlord now wishes to sell. They have nowhere to go. I am sure that Government TDs, and indeed Independent TDs, have been hearing the same stories of hardship and panic, which makes the decision to lift the ban even more astonishing.
“It is against this backdrop that the Government took what appears to have been an unplanned decision to lift the eviction ban a number of weeks ago. All the indications that were given by the Taoiseach over recent months had led renters, landlords and the public an impression that the Government was taking legal advice and seriously considering the extension of the eviction ban. We put down a parliamentary question about why the eviction ban was initially planned to end on 31 March. I was told by the Department that “regard was had to the meteorological winter period”. When more than 11,750 people are in state homelessness services, basing a decision of this gravity on the weather beggars belief.
“It has been said by Government TDs and Ministers that the Opposition is not putting forward constructive ideas. That is patently untrue. On 9th February, the Labour Party tabled a motion, proposing to extend the ban and put in place eight emergency measures that would have resulted in an increase in supply. The Government opposed that and it is now refusing to accept this motion to extend the ban in these circumstances of devastation for so many households. We have put forward a further constructive proposal, which I wrote to the Taoiseach about last week. Labour drafted a Bill that would provide for a facility to extend the eviction ban until there is an evidence base for its lifting. That is, until there is a drop in homelessness figures for four consecutive months. This proposal chimes with the calls of homeless charities, such as the Simon Community. It is certainly more logical than a weather forecast, made 6 months in advance. Although he has not written back to me, I understand the Taoiseach is not accepting our Bill. Perhaps this is a tacit admission that he does not have confidence in his Government’s ability to reduce homelessness.
“As such, we in Labour have no option but to table a motion of no confidence in the Government next week, during private members time on 29th March. It is not an action we take lightly, but we are in a situation where the Government has announced a decision at the last minute, and contrary to what it had indicated, which will have devastating consequences for households around the country. It is being done without any contingency, except a series of last minute measures which could, and should, have been taken months ago.”