Government comfortably defeats FF no confidence motion

Backbenchers support Shatter in face of renewed Opposition demands that he resign


The Government defeated the Fianna Fáil motion of no confidence in Minister for Justice Alan Shatter by 95 votes to 51 in the Dail tonight.

The Coalition’s large majority was expected, as several Government speakers rallied to the Minister’s defence in the second night of the debate on the motion. Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who has consistently defended the Minister, sat next to Mr Shatter when he entered the chamber shortly before the vote was taken.

Opposition speakers, including Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, renewed their call on the Minister to resign. Mr Martin said the facts of the crisis showed that anyone looking to the Labour party to assert basic standards of accountability within government could now give up any hope. “In this case, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice pushed the Garda Commissioner into resignation but didn’t think it necessary to tell Labour anything,’’ he added.

He said a mounting list of events had destroyed public confidence in Mr Shatter’s oversight of one of the most vital areas handled by the Government.

Defending Mr Shatter, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the Minister’s record over the past three years showed he had outstanding competence.

“The approach of the Opposition, particularly the approach of Fianna Fail who moved this motion, is totally dishonest and all the pretend outrage from the benches opposite does not hide that fact,’’ he added.

The debate produced heated contributions from both sides of the house. As Opposition speakers renewed their call on Mr Shatter to resign, several Government TDs expressed support for the Minister in brief contributions.

Clare Daly (Ind) claimed that a woman in the public gallery, who had been abused horrendously by her father, had provided detailed statements with her mother to An Garda Síochána relating to serious allegations against Mr Shatter concerning perverting and obstructing the course of justice and other serious matters.

Mick Wallace (Ind) said the Minister’s handling of various issues had been disastrous and lacked any appetite for truth, transparency or accountability. “This place is disconnected from the real world,’’ Mr Wallace added. “Fine Gael and Labour will vote confidence in Mr Shatter tonight and say that everything is grand.’’

He said there were not many people outside of the Dail who thought everything was grand. “It is a joke…it really is…what you are standing over relating to Mr Shatter,’’ he added.

Joe Higgins (Socialist Party) accused the Minister of attempting to protect the senior echelons of An Garda Siochana when issues surfaced which brought their role into serious question.

Dara Murphy (FG) said no Minister had shown the same level of compassion or work ethic of Mr Shatter.

Anne Ferris (Lab) said many of the serious pigeons which come home to roost in the Department of Justice had been launched into orbit by Fianna Fáil. “Over the past three years, the Government, including the Minister for Justice, have put considerable effort in undoing inherited legal problems and their social impact,’’she added.

Jerry Buttimer (FG) said the Minister’s achievements should be contrasted with the inept failure of Fianna Fáil in government. There had been a conflict of interest, he said, between party leader Micheal Martin and his officials on a briefing when Mr Martin was a Minister.