No confidence motion in Tánaiste is ‘only sanction’ available to Opposition

Sinn Féin leader rejects claim move is simply point scoring and mudslinging

The no confidence motion follows Mr Varadkar’s apology in the Dáil on Tuesday for “errors of judgment” after he passed on a confidential document.  Photogrpaph:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The no confidence motion follows Mr Varadkar’s apology in the Dáil on Tuesday for “errors of judgment” after he passed on a confidential document. Photogrpaph:Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has rejected claims that the party’s motion of no confidence in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is “simply to score points or to mudsling”.

She said the Taoiseach had not sanctioned Mr Varadkar and “as the Opposition the only sanction available to us is to table a motion of no confidence”.

The motion will be debated on Tuesday and the Sinn Féin leader said “the politics of the nod and wink, the insiders, the cosy clubs, the old boys network, call it what you will, has a cost, has a price and it’s a cost that’s borne by the Irish people.

“This type of claustrophobic entitled obnoxious frankly, politics is exactly the kind of politics that has left us in difficulties” that had left the public with a substandard, confused and expensive health system.

The no confidence motion follows Mr Varadkar’s apology in the Dáil on Tuesday for “errors of judgment” after he passed a confidential document, the GP contract agreed between the Irish Medical Organisation and the Department of Health and HSE, to the president of rival doctors’ group the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) in April last year when he was taoiseach.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme Ms McDonald also rejected claims that the party’s motion if successful would result in the collapse “of the entire edifice” of Government at a time when the country needed a stable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Tánaiste told the Dáil he had done so on a confidential basis to ensure all doctors supported the GP contracts.

But Ms McDonald said his version of events “is not only implausible but clearly in accurate”.

She said “Taoiseach Micheál Martin has not sanctioned him for that, has taken no action”.

However, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said on the same programme that “the very kind of accountability” Sinn Féin was seeking had already happened when Tánaiste publicly acknowledged the issue, consulted Government leaders and went into the Dáil and apologised.

He claimed there was always “heat” from Sinn Féin but “never any light” and the party was always “pointing the finger and never showing the way”.

Asked what sanction another Government Minister would face if they were to leak another confidential document, Mr Donohoe said the sanction was accountability to Dáil Éireann.

He said “the track record of the person in the round” had to be taken into consideration adding that Mr Varadkar had led the government in Brexit negotiations and handling numerous issues on public pay.

Fine Gael has also accused Sinn Féin of costing the taxpayer an additional €25,000 because the Dáil will have to sit in Convention Centre to allow all TDs vote on the no confidence motion because of social distancing requirements.

Each sitting of the House in the centre costs an additional €25,000 approximately. The Dáil business committee had agreed a sitting on Wednesday in the convention centre before Sinn Féin announced its motion.

The party’s speaking time is on Tuesday but Sinn Féin said there would be no additional expense if the party instead swopped with Independent TDs who have a slot on Wednesday.