Housing row fuels talk of a rift within Fine Gael

Catherine Byrne TD
Catherine Byrne TD

It wasn’t exactly round two, but there was a decent amount of ducking and diving as Eoghan Murphy and Catherine Byrne side-stepped each other yesterday.

On Monday, the Fine Gael ministers clashed over plans for the State’s first “cost-rental” housing estate. Byrne unexpectedly took to the podium and begged Murphy not to destroy her local community.

“It’s the wrong decision at the wrong time and I will not stand idly by any more and not give my opinion,” she said.

Yesterday, both attended Alone’s unveiling of its new housing scheme. Asked if he had discussed the comments with Byrne, Murphy said he “hadn’t had the chance to talk to her immediately afterwards… or today either”.

Had the very public spat caused him any degree of embarrassment?

“Catherine has always been a very strong representative of her constituency and that’s what she felt she was doing,” he replied.

Murphy “had no idea” why Byrne decided to bypass her own party’s press office and issue a statement challenging Murphy’s proposal late on Monday. “You’d have to ask her that,” he said.

But Byrne was nowhere to be found, she slipped away during the media doorstop, after declining a photographer’s request to pose for a photo with the Housing Minister. All this has increased rumours of a rift within the party.

Fianna Fáil’s housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien said it was “quite unseemly to observe what is happening between two ministers in public. It displays…dysfunction and a lack of purpose on what was supposed to be a big announcement.”

Irish Independent

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