The Government’s decision to lift the temporary “emergency” ban on no-fault evictions has been met with widespread controversy.
Data recently published by tax specialists Taxback found that 53% of taxpayers surveyed disagreed with the decision, while 47% supported lifting it, as reported by breakingnews.ie. The decision has sparked intense, and oftentimes heated, debates in public forums, including on the Dáil floor.
Father Peter McVerry, head of the Peter McVerry Trust, has condemned the decision. McVerry, himself a UCD graduate and recipient of the UCD Alumni Award in Science, is known for his charity work, combatting homelessness and providing support to thousands of homeless people on an annual basis. McVerry recently claimed in an interview on South East radio that a cabinet source had informed him that An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, had overruled the Minister for Housing in deciding to lift the ban.
Varadkar’s office claimed that the information was inaccurate and that the cabinet worked together. Following the ensuing controversy, Fr McVerry apologised to Varadkar. According to the Irish Times, Varadkar stated that an apology was unnecessary, that he respected Fr McVerry and his efforts to help the homeless community, and that he appreciated his clarification on the matter. Varadkar has claimed that the Government works closely with charitable organisations, including Fr McVerry’s, when providing assistance to vulnerable members of the community. Varadkar reaffirmed his commitment to tackling homelessness by increasing the supply of social housing.
While McVerry’s brief public disagreement with Varadkar has been resolved, the government continues to face criticism for its handling of housing policy. The lifting of the ban has been praised by some who view it as a necessary step towards increasing supply and ensuring that landlords remain in the Irish rental market. However, others have cited fears over an increase in homelessness, with many renters fearing the prospect of eviction.
Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin recently faced controversy for sharing a satirical image on Twitter by Irish artist Spicebag. The image depicts Gardai and private security personnel photoshopped onto a historical painting by Daniel MacDonald portraying the eviction of a poor 19th Century Irish family. The artwork, political in nature, draws parallels between the historic evictions in rural Ireland and the contemporary political climate. Ó Broin later stated he “regretted” bringing Gardai into a debate on housing policy, stating that he had hoped instead to promote awareness on the issue of rising homelessness due to evictions.
As the ban on evictions has been lifted, many renters, including students, are anxious at the prospects of receiving Notices To Quit (NTQ’s). Students living in rental accommodation who would like to share their experiences are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.