Varad­kar will blame FF for caus­ing an elec­tion if un­der-fire Mur­phy ousted

Irish Independent - - News - Kevin Doyle Group Po­lit­i­cal Editor

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

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