21 March 2023
Sinn Féin on Councils leads eviction ban fight
Sinn Féin Councillors have been leading the fight on the Councils for the reversal of the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Green Government decision to lift the ban on evictions at the end of March. In one Council the entire Sinn Féin group walked out in protest after the mayor refused to allow discussion of their emergency motion.
The four Sinn Féin members of Fingal County Council, Ann Graves, Angela Donnelly, Natalie Treacy and Breda Hanaphy said they were “shocked that any mayor would think that this was not a national emergency” after Fianna Fáil Mayor of Fingal Howard Mahony refused to take the motion. He also refused to allow discussion of the issue under the manager’s report. The Sinn Féin councillors then walked out of the chamber in protest. But in an act of hypocrisy Mahony then allowed councillors of other parties to discuss the eviction ban.
In neighbouring Dublin City Council the Sinn Féin group has secured a special emergency meeting of the Council on 29 March. This will add to the pressure on the Government parties, coming as it does a week after the Sinn Féin Dáil motion to extend the eviction ban and in the same week as a Labour Party no-confidence Dáil motion. Announcing the special meeting, Sinn Féin Councillor Daithi Doolan, leader of the Sinn Féin group, stated:
“The decision by the Government to end the eviction ban will be a disaster for Dublin. It is essential that Minister for Housing immediately reverses the decision. The Government must stop punishing vulnerable people for the housing crisis. Homeless services are already over stretched. The ending of the ban will put these services under further pressure.”
At its February meeting Dublin City Council had already adopted a Sinn Féin motion proposed by Councillor Máire Devine to declare a housing emergency “to allow the adoption of emergency responses and extend the ban on evictions”.
At its March meeting Cork City Council passed a motion proposed by Sinn Féin Councillor Eolan Ryng that noted the recent statement by Threshold that unprecedented numbers of adults and children could now become homeless, as a result of the Government’s plan to lift the eviction ban for rented properties. It also noted the statement by Threshold that “the organisation currently works with thousands of individuals with notices of termination, and the Coalition’s decision is likely to exacerbate the concerns – and situations – these renters find themselves in”. Cork City Council’s motion therefore “appeals to the Government to reconsider their decision and, in line with opinion expressed by Cork City Councillors in February, extend the eviction ban.”
On Louth Council on 20 March the following Sinn Féin motion was passed:
“This Council calls on the Government to extend the ban on evictions until the end of the year; to expand the tenant-in-situ scheme for social and affordable cost rental tenants; and to use emergency planning and procurement powers to target vacant and derelict properties and new building technologies to deliver additional social and affordable homes above the targets for this year.”
In Waterford, the Sinn Féin Councillors have called for a special meeting and have written to fellow councillors stating:
“Waterford is in the grip of an unprecedented housing crisis due to a decade of inaction by successive Governments. Against this backdrop Government has decided to end the ban on evictions effective from April 1st. This will undoubtedly lead to sharp increase in families and individuals presenting as homeless.
“Waterford City and County Council currently has extremely limited capacity and we have called on the Executive to do all it can to add capacity as we face an increase in homelessness in the coming weeks. The Sinn Féin group of councillors believes that Waterford City and County Council should meet urgently to discuss this impending escalation of the housing and homelessness crisis and to seek immediate action from Government to address its causes.”
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Contributions from key figures in the churches, academia and wider civic society as well as senior republican figures