Opposition doesn't hold monopoly on concern about homelessness – minister
The opposition does not hold a monopoly on concern about housing or homelessness, Eamon Ryan has said after the coalition Government won three key votes on its decision to end the eviction ban.
The Green Party leader said the decision to end the moratorium on no-fault evictions was “hard for everyone”, but added that the Government’s victory in the Dail this week was “telling”.
He said it was “not true” that the Regional Independents Group had more power than a minister such as Mary Butler, who said she was not consulted on a policy put forward by the Government in an attempt to shore up support from independents ahead of the motion last week.
Transport and Climate Minister Mr Ryan also said local authorities would have to “step up” to deliver on a pledge that councils would offer to buy rented homes if landlords want to sell.
“The opposition have no monopoly on concern about homelessness or housing. We all have the interest of housing our people and preventing homelessness,” he said on RTE’s Morning Ireland.
“None of the main opposition parties are saying that they would continue the eviction ban for ever and a day. They’re saying they’d just extended it slightly longer, but that would have downside risks attached too.”
He said Government parties had “changed fundamentally tenants’ rights” by offering people at risk of eviction the right of first refusal to buy the property.
“We will extend from the first of April, from this weekend, the Tenant in Situ Scheme so that those households in receipt of housing supports can avail of that option.
“And for someone who isn’t in those circumstances, that we will get the local authorities or the approved housing bodies (AHBs) to be able to purchase the property and rent it back to the tenant as a cost-rental tenant model.”
He added: “If there isn’t an HAP (housing assistance payment) tenancy available, that Tenant in Situ Scheme is up and running and is available to allow the local authority, or the AHB, to buy that property and rent it back to the tenant.
“That’s existing, that’s working, that’s already about 1,000 households who are going to avail of that, which is in progress, or which have already been purchased.
“The local authorities are going to have to step up here and there is different levels of interest, you have to say, from that.
“My own council, Dublin City Council, are really eager and are really keen because actually, what it does is it allows us to increase the social housing stock.
“It allows us to actually create a new model of rental in this country where you have security of tenure, where you have access to housing within the community. You don’t have to build, you can deliver quickly.
“We are in a housing crisis where we can’t say, ‘oh, it would be great if you had every single bow tied, every single thing sorted’, but actually, in my mind, was better to proceed with what is already a working scheme and use that as a mechanism to broaden it, widen it, and fundamentally change and improve tenants’ rights at a difficult time.”
He also suggested he would not introduce congestion charges or increase road tolls as a climate measure during his tenure.
He said the focus needed to be on improving public transport and “reallocating road space” first.
He also said there would be a reduction in the number of cattle in Ireland “in time”, but this “doesn’t mean a cull”, suggesting that payments would be offered to farmers to engage in other farming practices.