Thursday, 30 July 2020
Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Pat Buckley (Cork East, Sinn Fein)
I have listened to the debate for a while, and as a second-term Deputy, the more I listen to the Government on this the more worried I am getting. I am actually going into panic mode. The Government has a fabulous knack of watering things down. A lot of the Opposition amendments are based on one thing, which is fairness. Deputy Ó Broin spoke about protecting both sides, the renter and the landlord.
As other speakers have said, there is a pandemic and an emergency, but there is also an emergency with housing and homelessness. We talk on and on about emergencies. With the utmost respect, every time the Minister speaks about a Government amendment, I see more people being thrown out onto the street and more people being affected mentally by this. We will be back here in the new year and we will be hearing about not hundreds but thousands of cases of mental health difficulties, suicides, families living with families and couch surfing, which has been mentioned already. I expect tents to become very expensive because people will not have a house or anywhere to live except a tent.
I listened to the debate earlier about protecting the most vulnerable. It was mentioned that some people might not have had the luxury of a strong education and would have difficulty reading. The Minister replied with the suggestion that he would fix that, and that if they cannot read or write they can do it through a computer and send it by email. These people cannot even afford a computer and probably do not have broadband. As I listened I recalled watching a world championship snooker match when I was a young fellow. The commentator said, "For those people watching in black and white, the pink is between the blue and the green". That did not make much sense to me watching it in black and white. Many of the amendments I am hearing about from the Government have the same resonation in my head.
We are facing massive implications if this Bill is passed tonight without protection for everybody. I appeal to the Members here and to the Members who will be here later to vote on the Bill to think with their conscience. Unfortunately, the future is unpredictable, but one can plan for it. I hope to God that the misfortune and suffering people are experiencing today never knock on the Government Members' doors. They will scratch their heads and say, "Where did we all go wrong when Members on the opposite side were trying to do the right thing?". I urge them to plan for the future. There is an emergency here and we must keep it going. The Government has said many times that we have to keep it going. We must keep these emergency measures and the protection of people going. I appeal to every Member of the House to do the right thing. Members should not make the mistake of coming back to the House in a couple of months scratching their heads and asking themselves where they all went wrong.