Varadkar will blame FF for causing an election if under-fire Murphy ousted
FINE GAEL will move to pin the blame for a general election on Fianna Fáil if Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is ousted from office.
The embattled minister launched an attack on opposition parties as pressure mounted over the failure to make any major inroads in the housing crisis.
Mr Murphy claimed “huge progress”, but in reality house prices are still soaring and the number of homeless families remains high.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned his party that Sinn Féin could place a motion of no confidence in the minister before the Dáil breaks for the summer recess on July 12.
Attention would then immediately turn to Fianna Fáil, which is required to back ministers under the confidence and supply arrangement.
Fine Gael sources said if Micheál Martin reneged on that promise, then a general election at a key juncture in the Brexit negotiations would be on his head.
Sinn Féin holds its ard fheis in Belfast this weekend and the issue of housing will feature heavily. However, Mary Lou McDonald is expected to allow the uncertainty over a no-confidence motion continue into next week.
Mr Murphy accused her deputies of launching personalised attacks. “It’s a kind of Trump approach to doing business that I abhor,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said the Sinn Féin stance “is entirely tactical and entirely cynical. Because it has nothing to lose.
“What it wants to do is put down that motion and if it wins it then there is an election.
“That is something that Sinn Féin wants, I do not want it. But if it is defeated, then it can embarrass Fianna Fáil. It is just about undermining the Government. It is disappointing from Sinn Féin with its new leader and new brand.”
He acknowledged that the progress the Government had made on housing was insufficient, but added: “I totally stand behind Minister Murphy.”
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe also launched a staunch defence of his colleague, saying there “is nobody better placed in Dáil Éireann” to deal with the housing crisis.
“Sinn Féin is intent on exploiting the anxiety and worries of people who aren’t in homes or can’t afford homes for political gain,” he said.
“The only thing Eoghan is focused on is making their lives better.”
Mr Murphy lashed out at Sinn Féin for hiring a billboard with his image and a list of the problems in the housing sector.
“We’re making progress, they’re making posters,” the minister added.
Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin has been warned by Taoiseach