Thursday, 30 July 2020
Residential Tenancies and Valuation Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin (Dublin Bay North, Labour)
I will be as brief as possible in support of these amendments. The overarching thing we are trying to achieve was referenced by the previous speaker, with whom I agree. There can be a level of political game playing, either here or in Leinster House, as the Minister knows, in which the Opposition tries to depict the Government as uncaring, unfeeling and on the side of everything that is bad while everybody in the Opposition is on the side of everything that is good. It is not as simple as that, as we know. We know that everybody in politics comes into politics to make a positive difference. We are not trying to depict anybody in the Government as trying to do something destructive.
The issue is that we have been having debates on housing and homelessness for the best part of at least seven years and the public has lost faith in politicians' ability to come together and deliver solutions. However, what the public has seen since March is that a Government intervention has made the difference. We are asking the Government to continue its own policy. If a measure introduced by the Government in March has resulted in a decrease in the number of people presenting as homeless and a demonstrable improvement in tackling the problem, why would the Government not just continue with the policy that is seen to be successful? That is what is so frustrating.
The Labour Party and other political parties in the House are not trying to depict the Government as uncaring or unfeeling. However, if a Government policy is working, why can we not just continue to work with it? The problem is, as I said the other day, that we will return here in September and, while we do not want to be right, there is every indication that we will be right and that we will be in a position to say, "We told you". It is much more comfortable for me to stand in Dáil Éireann and say we were right than it is for the person who is affected by this Bill. Those are the stakes with which we are playing. We cannot get this wrong. I fundamentally believe the Minister is a compassionate person who wants to do the right thing in terms of housing people. I know that he has absolutely no intention of making anybody homeless. The problem is that the Government policy is working but this Bill is going to change that. The stakes are so high that I wish the Government would accept the amendments that have been put forward in good faith.