Green Party members in Cork have blasted the Government's decision not to extend the eviction ban beyond March, arguing that it does not reflect the party's values.
It comes as Green Party TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan criticised the process of "three men in the room making this decision" without wider consultation and told RTÉ's Claire Byrne that the decision seemed to reflect the Fine Gael party "fairly well, but it doesn't suit the Green Party".
Following a meeting of the three coalition leaders and housing minister Darragh O'Brien on Monday night, the recommendation was to let the current legislation lapse.
Calls had been made to extend the ban as homelessness and energy bills remain high.
Speaking to The Echo, Green Party representative for Cork North-Central Oliver Moran described lifting the ban without putting new measures in place for renters as “putting the cart before the horse” and that the same conditions that existed before the ban still exist now.
He said there are plans in place to give tenants and approved housing bodies (AHBs) first choice at buying a property, rather than a tenant being evicted into homelessness.
“The intention is to allow tenants to either buy or rent the property back at cost. I want to see the details of that plan before being convinced by it and dates for when it will be in place.
"There's already a scheme to allow local authorities to buy properties where HAP tenants are being evicted. I'm in contact with senior staff in Cork City Council today [Tuesday] about that so we prepare our approach to doing that in Cork as a matter of urgency."
East Cork Green Party councillor Liam Quaide said the lifting of the eviction ban was in the current context is “morally wrong” and said it will “add further misery to the lives of people who are already in very precarious situations”.
“It's out of touch with our core party commitment to care for the most vulnerable in society,” he said.
Councillor Colette Finn said she was “horrified” that the ban had been lifted given the numbers in emergency accommodation and said the Government has “no immediate plans as to how they are going to deal with more evictions”.
Councillor Dan Boyle said: “As regards to the Green Party’s own impact, the reality is that we can articulate what we think the better policy approaches are but we’re not always going to get agreement in Government as to whether that’s going to be the policy operated by Government.” Mr Boyle said he does not believe the fallout from the decision on the eviction ban is likely to cause any major rift within the Green Party.
“As with these things, it comes down to strategy.
“People in the party would accord with a position that looks at housing needs rather than property rights.
“The reality of being in Government is that we’ll make the arguments, we’ll try to get the best possible policy – it’s not always going to work out.
“This is a defeat for the Green Party point of view and we have to make sure that the policy improves into the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Green Party member Lorna Bogue, who left the party in 2020, said: "I found out the hard way a long time ago that the values of the Green Party in relation to housing are precisely the same as those of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. That is to provide social protection for landlords and speculators but not for tenants.
“What surprises me is that Neasa Hourigan’s feigned criticism of her party’s policies is taken seriously.
“Neasa Hourigan has chosen to stay with a party that in majority voted for lifting both this ban and the previous eviction ban during the pandemic and routinely makes compassionate noises aimed at taking the edge off Government cruelty on several issues, for example, the mother and baby homes redress scheme, which she voted in favour of.”