Sinn Féin to table no-confidence motion in Eoghan Murphy
McDonald says party will table motion calling for reversal of rural post office closures
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald described the housing situation as a national crisis and a scandal. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has confirmed her party will table a motion of no confidence in Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy when the Dáil returns later this month.
And in a signal that the party will adopt a more confrontational approach in the Oireachtas in the autumn, it will also put down a motion calling for a reverse of post office closures. Some 159 rural post offices are earmarked to be closed under a consolidation plan announced by An Post last week.
In a hard-hitting speech at a meeting of party representatives ahead of the new Dáil term, Ms McDonald attacked the Government’s record on housing and homelessness, and also criticised Fianna Fáil for abiding by the confidence and supply agreement.
Describing the housing situation as a national crisis and a scandal she said: “It is time to call a halt. It is time for the Minister to go . . .
“We will table a motion of no confidence in Minister Murphy in the coming weeks. It will be decision time. It will be decision time for the Government and for Fianna Fáil.”
In response, Mr Murphy told The Irish Times: “Sinn Fein has floated the notion of a motion of no confidence in me on a number of occasions. They do it to get attention for themselves and to get headlines. We are in a minority Government situation so Sinn Fein should spend their time between now and Dail coming back getting the majority of parliament to back their big housing plan. The reason they are not doing that is because they do not have one.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says that motions don’t build houses when asked if his party would be supporting a Sinn Féin motion of no confidenc. Speaking on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, Mr Martin said that Fianna Fáil had “stepped up to the plate” to provide the country with stability. However, he did admit that he and his party had been “disgusted with the failures on housing and health” and the growing divide between the rest of the country and the eastern seaboard.
Addressing an audience of more than 100 TDs, Senators and councillors, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin would robustly challenge the marginalisation and neglect of rural Ireland.
“As a matter of priority on the week the Dáil returns, Sinn Féin will table a motion to save these vital rural services. I challenge Micheál Martin and Fianna Fáil to stand up for rural Ireland. I challenge him to get off the fence and to support our motion.”
Speaking to reporters at the Kilmore Hotel in Cavan, Ms McDonald singled out Fianna Fáil for particular criticism for its continued support of the Government in confidence, and budgetary, votes.
“What does it take for Fianna Fáil to wake up and smell the coffee? They say they want a housing budget, what does it mean?
“It has not amounted to anything. We have 10,000 homeless people and 3,000 homeless children,” Ms McDonald said.
Asked about the confidence and supply agreement, she said it was her view it would be extended.
“It is a sleight of hand by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to be in government and opposition at the same time.
“I have never given much credence to the confidence and supply business. It was sleveen Fianna Fáil at their best, or their worst.”
She also said the party would probably not agree to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan’s request to fast-track the referendum that would remove references to the woman’s place in the home. Ms McDonald said her view was that a simple removal of that sexist language was not sufficient.
“We don’t simply want to remove those words. We also want a positive recognition of caring in a non-gendered way . . . I want to see sexist language out of the Constitution, I also want protection for those who care.”
The party is expected to nominate its candidate for the presidency on September 16th. Ms McDonald told delegates there would be a Sinn Féin candidate in the field, saying the election provided an opportunity to elect a president for all of Ireland, both the North and South.
Ms McDonald portrayed the impasse in the North as something that was bigger than a dispute between two parties, hers and the DUP, but said it was “between those that are for equality and respect and those who are not”.
She said those rights included marriage equality, women’s healthcare, and protection of a language Act.
“The do-nothing British government has supported the undermining of its own [Belfast] Agreement and the rights of citizens.
“The two governments have said they are planning for a further round of talks in the autumn. I welcome that. We are up for talks and agreement but any talks must be credible.”
She said if the DUP was not willing or unable to deliver, the two governments needed to press ahead with the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement and the extension of rights to the North that were available in the Republic.