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06.35 31 Jul 2020


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Green Party TDs Neasa Hourigan and Joe O’Brien have had their speaking rights removed after breaking ranks with the Government while voting in the Dáil.

A dramatic evening in the Dublin Convention Centre saw Dublin Central TD Neasa Hourigan voted against the government’s housing bill five times.

Meanwhile junior minister Joe O’Brien abstained from the final vote on the legislation.

Housing

The legislation was tabled to replace the rent freeze and eviction ban, brought in at the start of the COVID-19 emergency.

While it will extend the protections for people whose income has been directly affected by the outbreak; it will remove them for everyone else.

The protections are due to expire on Saturday night.

In a statement this morning the Green Party said its elected officials held a meeting following the vote.

“The group decided to sanction Deputy Neasa Hourigan and Minister of State Joe O'Brien for voting against the Government and abstaining,” it said.

“Both have had their speaking rights removed for two months.”

Green Party

Deputy Hourigan voted against the Government on four proposed amendments to the legislation and then voted against the bill in its entirety.

She also resigned her position as the party’s Chief Whip; however, she has she wishes to remain within the parliamentary party.

She is a member of the Green Party affiliated group Just Transition Greens – a group that has called for change within the party.

In a statement, the group said the protections should have remained until the pandemic is under control and the economy is on a “strong recovery path.”

Meanwhile, Minister O’Brien said he was not convinced the legislation was “the best we could have done” and noted that the issue of homelessness is “extremely important” for him.

Hourigan wants to stay as a Green TD but has accepted her future is in the hands of her colleagues.

It is understood party leader Eamon Ryan has spoken with Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar about the issue.

Some senior Government TDs believe there will have to be punishments, and possible suspensions, for the Deputies.


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