Dáil resumes with confidence debate on Taoiseach

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has not requested speaking time for debate


The Dáil resumes this afternoon after the summer recess with a debate on a motion of confidence in Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The three-hour debate on the contents of Mr Justice Nial Fennelly’s report into the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan, begins at 2.30pm when the Dáil returns.

Fianna Fáil had tabled a no confidence motion in Mr Kenny following the publication of the Fennelly report. The Government responded with a motion reaffirming confidence in Mr Kenny.

The debate will take place from 2.30pm and will last three hours with the vote held on Tuesday.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin denied submitting the no confidence motion was a waste of time, because the Government’s majority ensures it will be defeated.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach had attempted to hide the contents of the report and report highlighted the “shifty behaviour” of Mr Kenny in the lead up to Mr Callinan’s departure.

He said: “This is a weighty report. Many were taken back by the revelations in the report and remember the Taoiseach has hidden all of this for 18 months.

“Are we all supposed to be complicit in the Taoiseach’s attempt to bury this?”

Earlier Mr Kenny accused the Opposition is “playing games” with their no confidence motion.

Fianna Fáil has tabled the motion following the publication of the Fennelly report and the Government has responded with a motion reaffirming confidence in Mr Kenny.

This will be debated on Tuesday from 2pm, when the Dáil returns, and the vote held on Wednesday.

Mr Kenny is likely to miss the vote as he has to attend an emergency EU summit on migration on Wednesday but he will speak in the debate Tuesday evening and is expected to deliver a robust defence of his position.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet, Mr Kenny said Opposition parties will always play games and the Government will respond.

The Taoiseach suggested the reason for the motion was that Fianna Fáil “want to get in front of their erstwhile colleagues Sinn Féin”.

He added: “If the Opposition want to play games then that’s fine, the Government will respond”.

The report found the Taoiseach did not sack Mr Callinan but that the dispatch of a senior civil servant to his home in March last year was the catalyst for the then Garda commissioner’s resignation.

Government sources say the Taoiseach will emphasise the finding by Mr Justice Niall Fennelly that that he did not sack Mr Callinan by dispatching Brian Purcell, then general secretary of the Department of Justice, to his home on March 24th last year.

Speaking from the ploughing championships in Co Laois, Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said the force was “fully co-operating with the facilitating the commission in their ongoing work. The interim report is being examined and any issues identified in it will be full addressed.” The attention of the commission has now shifted to the issue of phone tapping.

Mr Kenny will insist during the Dáil debate that that Mr Callinan chose to retire on his own accord and that the report backs him in this assessment.

Mr Kenny said on Tuesday there was a busy Dail session ahead.

The Government’s focus would be on preparing for the budget and making decisions that will secure the recovery so people all over the country would feel the benefits of a rising economy.

However, he stressed the Government had not signed off on any measures yet.

“Decisions haven’t been made by Government yet but we have indicated a number of priorities in respect to the tax burden being too heavy and the rate being too penal.”

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said on Tuesday morning the motion of confidence would rally the Coalition troops.

“Votes of confidence are always a good thing. They’re a rallying thing for the troops and we’ve a good story to tell,” he said.

“A vote of confidence is about whether this Government has done a good job for the last four-and-a-half years.

“I think the answer to that objectively is ‘yes’ and we have the space to spell out our clear answer to that.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the motion of confidence related to “one upmanship” between Fianna Fail and Sinn Féin. He said it showed the Opposition to be bereft of any social or economic policies.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins said despite the inevitable Government victory in the vote – given the size of its Dáil majority, there was merit in submitting a motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach. He said was lacking was a “consistent approach by this Government to accountability”.

Sinn Féin is also to consider tabling a motion of no confidence in the Attorney General Marie Whelan.

It is understood the AG cannot be the subject of a vote in the Dail chamber and it will be ruled out of order.