The leader of the Sinn Féin group on Cork City Council, Councillor Mick Nugent, has toldhis group are calling for an emergency meeting of the full council to discuss the impact of the lifting of the eviction ban on individuals and families in Cork.
The four Sinn Féin councillors - Mick Nugent, Kenneth Collins, Fiona Kerins, and Elan Ryng - were joined by independent councillor Thomas Moloney in signing a letter to the Lord Mayor calling for the emergency meeting, and Cllr Nugent said the meeting must occur urgently.
He added that the requirements have been met under Section 44 of the Local Government Act to activate a full emergency meeting of the Council on the lifting of the eviction ban.
It comes as the Government defeated Sinn Féin’s motion calling for the eviction ban to be extended, securing a majority of 83 votes to 68 in the Dáil on Wednesday.
Cllr Nugent said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs “effectively voted to sign eviction notices for at least 500 individuals and families in Cork”.
“Given the gravity of the situation, we believe that it is imperative that an emergency meeting of the full council occurs in public to discuss the impact this will have on an already disastrous housing situation in Cork City.
“Cork City Council must be prepared with an emergency plan to deal with this impending crisis, and it’s important that every councillor has the opportunity not only to contribute to this plan but also to make clear their own position on the Government decision to lift the ban.
“We must do everything we can to protect ordinary families and individuals who, because of this reckless Government decision, face eviction and the prospect of homelessness through no fault of their own. Let's be clear, the Government has chosen, with eyes wide open, to escalate a housing emergency that was already out of control,” he said.
He said that while the Government has “thrown in the towel on renters”, it is not something Sinn Féin is going to do either locally or at a national level.
“We’re putting any pressure we can on the Government to basically reverse the decision on the eviction ban,” he told The Echo.
He said that the solutions that have been offered by Government, such as the tenant-in-situ purchases scheme, are not immediate solutions for those facing homelessness next month.
“The tenants-in-situ scheme could take months before it has an effect on people facing this eviction ban and what’s still unclear is the answer to the question of where do people go? Newborn babies, people with complex medical needs, where do they go?
“A figure of 500 has been mentioned in terms of people facing eviction in Cork.
“So, that’s the question we’d be posing, what measures are available or can be put in place, what extra resources are there or can be made available to support what could be a tsunami of people facing eviction?
“We do want to work with the City Council in terms of putting a plan together but also councillors, through that, could engage with City Council management on putting a plan together,” he said.
Cllr Nugent described the lifting of the eviction ban as “a line-in-the-sand moment on housing” and said local authorities must be to the fore in opposing the decision and in challenging “bad policies of national Government that continue to hamstring local efforts to respond to the unprecedented housing crisis”.
Cork City Council has been contacted byfor comment.