Eoghan Murphy likely to survive Dáil motion of no confidence

Minister facing second motion of no confidence in his time at Department of Housing

Minister for Housing: The Dáil vote on the motion of no confidence in him is expected at around 10pm. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Minister for Housing: The Dáil vote on the motion of no confidence in him is expected at around 10pm. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy seems set to survive a Dáil motion of no confidence on Tuesday evening, although a number of Independent TDs whose support the Government hopes to secure have yet to declare their hands.

Mr Murphy will face the second motion of no confidence during his time at the Department of Housing, with the vote expected at around 10pm.

The Social Democrats are moving the motion. The Government claims that if successful the motion could lead to a general election in late December or early January because it could no longer command the support of the Dáil.

The Social Democrats insist, however, that a general election would not necessarily follow, and that the motion is only in Mr Murphy himself.

“This is a motion of no confidence in a Minister,” said Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy.

“The threat of a motion of no confidence in Frances Fitzgerald was enough to make her step aside,” she added of the resignation of the former tánaiste an minister for justice two years ago.

There are 158 TDs in the Dáil. Under the confidence and supply agreement, Fianna Fáil’s 45 TDs will abstain on the motion.

The Ceann Comhairle will not vote unless there is a tie so 112 TDs could potentially vote for or against Mr Murphy, meaning the Government needs 57 votes to win.

Prior commitment

Donegal Independent TD Thomas Pringle will not be in the Dáil for the vote due to a prior commitment, bringing the total the Government needs to win down to 56.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is in Israel and Palestine on State business and has been given a pair by Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice. A “pair” is where an Opposition TD agrees not to vote to compensate for a Government TD away on State business.

The Government has previously relied on Independents such as Michael Lowry, Denis Naughten, Noel Grealish and Michael Harty. However, these Deputies have not yet said how they will vote.

Tipperary Independent Mattie McGrath, while saying he does not like abstaining unless paired with a Government Deputy, indicated he would not do anything to precipitate a general election.

“What is it going to achieve? Who wants a general election in Christmas week? I am definitely not supporting the Government, but does the country need an election in Christmas week?

“And the people who are tabling it – what mandate do they have?” he added, in reference the poor performances by Social Democrat candidates in last week’s Dáil byelections.

New TDs

The four new TDs elected in those contests – Fianna Fáil’s Malcolm Byrne and Pádraig O’Sullivan, Sinn Féin’s Mark Ward and Joe O’Brien of the Green Party – will take their seats on Tuesday.

A Government source said Ministers and TDs may not line up to defend Mr Murphy in the Dáil, as is usual practice when defending against a motion of no confidence.

Consideration is instead being given to having only Mr Murphy and another senior figure, such as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar or Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, give short speeches defending their record. However, the precise Government approach has not yet been confirmed.

Meanwhile, a former Fine Gael TD has said he will vote against the Government and for the motion of no confidence.

Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick resigned from Fine Gael last year, and said the Government was “full of promises”.

“The housing crisis is getting worse and worse.”

Mr Fitzpatrick said he previously supported a motion of no confidence in Minister for Health Simon Harris.