DAYS BEFORE Sinn Féin’s Dáil motion on ending the eviction ban and a fortnight before the ban was due to expire, Tánaiste Micheál Martin rounded on local councils and accused them of “resistance” to the scheme of buying homes with tenants in situ. The Fianna Fáil leader went on to describe councils’ response to FF housing minister Darragh O’Brien’s scheme as “patchy” and said that some councils were proactive while others were not. He also said that O’Brien had set up a special unit in his department to engage with councils.
SF, meanwhile, contacted all 31 local authorities around the country to ascertain what accommodation was available to those who find themselves homeless and, as the Irish Examiner reported, found that 17 had “no capacity” and that all the major councils had either no capacity or very limited accommodation. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, meanwhile, said that councils were “ramping up the provision of emergency accommodation”.
Given the reassurances from the main coalition party leaders about the role of councils in dealing with homelessness head on, the reaction of councillors in Cork City and Limerick City and County was more than a little ‘patchy’.
In early April an emergency meeting of Cork City Council was held to discuss the housing emergency and, predictably, SF put forward a motion calling for the reintroduction of the eviction ban.
Despite their leaders’ confidence in the ability of local councils and O’Brien’s special unit to deal with the homeless crisis via various schemes, FF and FG councillors blocked any debate on the motion, ensuring that the meeting did not even go ahead.
Similarly, in Limerick City and County the following day, an emergency meeting was held to discuss the same issue. SF, along with a Social Democrats councillor and an Independent, put down a motion calling for reinstatement of the eviction ban. FF and FG councillors, emboldened perhaps by the sterling example of their Cork colleagues, blocked the motion and refused to even allow the meeting to proceed.