The government will lose its majority in parliament tonight, according to

Former Fine Gael minister Joe McHugh has voted against his coalition colleagues and will resign as leader of Fine Gael tonight.

A Donegal TD does not support legislation aimed at compensating homeowners whose properties have been affected by the mica scandal.

“I make this decision with a clear head,” he said, adding that he “could not in good conscience” vote for the bill.

A grant scheme for defective concrete blocks is being debated in the Dail tonight, but campaigners say it does not offer the 100% compensation they have sought.

They also say that two hours is not enough time for a debate.

Praising the work done by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien in developing the compensation package, Mr McMahon said a lack of time to consider changes to the scheme was a major factor in his decision.

Speaking to, he said: “They don’t give him enough time to think about where he can improve or do better. I know there’s never going to be a perfect mica scheme, but it’s a massive piece of legislation and it’s just not given enough time.”

Parts of Mr McHugh’s constituency have been tainted by the presence of mica in concrete blocks used to build houses. Many families have seen the walls in their properties literally crumble as a result.

Politicians in the region are under sustained pressure from campaigners to make changes to the government’s €2.7 billion scheme.

They proposed about 80 amendments to the bill. Among the changes Mr McHugh wants is recognition that some homeowners may want to downsize during the remodeling phase.

He added that the proposed scheme would still force some people to come up with tens of thousands of euros for renovation projects, but the banks would not be involved.

“The final arbiters of this scheme should be the people who have to live with this nightmare,” he said.

In May, Mr McHugh said he planned to retire from politics at the next election. Speaking then, he said he would remain committed to achieving mica compensation for as long as he remained in the Dáil.

His decision to vote against the government is a major setback for the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Greens coalition, which had a majority of just one.

Two months ago, the Green Party lifted the party whip and suspended Patrick Costello and Nessa Hourigan from the parliamentary party for six months after they broke ranks in a vote on the National Maternity Home project.

Asked if he agreed to face such punishment, Mr Makma, a former head of government, said he knew the consequences of his decision. He plans to step down as the party whip tonight.

This means the government benches will be reduced to just 79 of the 159 TDs, excluding the Ceann Comhairle. In theory, the opposition will consist of 80 TDs, which will put the government in a very precarious position when Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe prepares the Budget on September 27.

Mr McHugh said he had not yet decided whether he would support the government from the opposition benches, but noted that it was with a heavy heart that he made today’s decision.

A number of independent TDs vote with the government on a case-by-case basis and can now demand support before the budget.

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