Former Fine Gael minister Joe McHugh has not yet decided whether he will support the government in future Dáil votes after he ousted the party leader.
he Donegal TD cracked down on his fellow coalition leaders last night as they attempted to push legislation underpinning a €2.7 billion redress scheme for homeowners affected by the mica scandal.
His decision means the number of government TDs has fallen to 79, leaving them ahead of a guaranteed majority ahead of September’s budget.
Mr McHugh said that Irish Independent that the people in his constituency were not happy with the plan and that he could not get over it.
While thanking Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien for trying to come up with a workable scheme, he said a decision to limit the Dáil debate to just two hours last night was the final straw.
“I’m making this decision with a clear head,” he said, adding that he “can’t in good conscience” vote for the law. He then resigned as Fine Gael party leader.
When asked if he would support Treasury Secretary Paschal Donohoe’s budget in September, the former education secretary replied: “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”
Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar told TDs and senators last night that he expects the Government to be able to rely on Mr McHugh’s voice on matters outside the Glimmer reparations scheme.
Two Green Party TDs are suspended from government benches until November, meaning the government could be at the mercy of a few independent budget TDs.
Parts of Mr McHugh’s constituency have been tainted by the presence of mica in concrete blocks used in building houses. Many families have literally seen walls come down in their homes as a result.
There were rowdy scenes in the Dáil last night as some activists tried to voice their dissatisfaction with the plan from the public gallery.
Mr McHugh justified his vote by saying: “I am speaking particularly of people of my generation who are a little bit older. People who will have a hard time getting a loan of 30,000 to 40,000 euros in advance [to finish a rebuild project].”
He acknowledged Mr O’Brien rushed the legislation to get it passed before the Dáil goes on summer recess later this month – but said changes were needed. “Downsizing was a big issue for me and I still find it unfair for someone who wants to downsize, this injustice to be punished… I felt very strong on that point and I’ll continue to raise that point.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/former-fine-gael-minister-joe-mchugh-resigns-party-whip-over-unhappiness-at-mica-redress-scheme-41819985.html Former Fine Gael Minister Joe McHugh resigns from the party over dissatisfaction with the Glimmer reparations scheme