Irish parliament begins debating no-confidence motion in Government

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Debate on a vote of no confidence in the Irish Government has begun.

Sinn Fein tabled the parliamentary device aimed at putting pressure on housing minister Eoghan Murphy over what campaigners claim is a homelessness crisis in the Republic.

The Government has said it is building more affordable homes but the number without shelter has risen relentlessly, to around 10,000, prompting mass street demonstrations and property occupations.

Sinn Fein’s public representative, Eoin O Broin TD, said: “Every single one of the 10,000-plus people, including 4,000 children, without a home is being failed by Eoghan Murphy and his housing plan.”

Property rental rates in Dublin have increased considerably in recent times as Ireland recovered from near-financial collapse.

The country’s government is made up of a minority coalition of Fine Gael and independents, with co-operation from Fianna Fail in key votes preventing its collapse since a divisive 2016 general election.

Fianna Fail has said it intends to abstain from Tuesday’s no-confidence vote.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has accused Sinn Fein of tabling the motion purely for political reasons and not really caring about people.

He has said 20,000 new homes would be built this year and that by 2020, that figure would reach 25,000 each year.

Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s flagship housing programme, commits to “meet the housing needs” of 135,000 households in need of social housing by 2021.

A group of about 1,000 housing protesters staged a mass demonstration in Dublin last weekend to highlight the issue.

Take Back the City brought traffic to a standstill on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares as demonstrators took part in a sit-down protest.

Earlier, Mr Murphy said he hoped to meet with his colleague, minister of state Catherine Byrne, ahead of the vote.

Ms Byrne refused to confirm or deny on Monday whether she was considering voting against her party colleague.

Mr Murphy said he did not know what her position was but he hoped that she would not be pulled into what he called a Sinn Fein “stunt”.

Mr Varadkar said that if Ms Byrne did not vote confidence in the minister, she could no longer continue as a minister herself.

Earlier this year Ms Byrne publicly opposed a new housing scheme in her constituency Dublin South Central at its launch.

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