Sinn Féin to table motion of no confidence next week in Government

‘They will want to be as disruptive as possible’, says Coveney on Opposition’s no confidence vote before Oireachtas breaks for summer

Sinn Féin is to table a motion of no confidence in the Government to be voted on next week, party leader Mary Lou McDonald has confirmed.

Following the motion being tabled several senior Fine Gael Ministers have publicly expressed confidence that the Government would survive the no confidence vote.

The motion of no confidence comes after the loss of the Coalition’s majority when Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh resigned the party whip and voted against the Government on the legislation covering compensation for mica-affected homeowners earlier this week.

Mr McHugh’s defection means that the number of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party TDs under their party whips no longer forms a majority in the Dáil.

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However, in reality the Government tends to win votes comfortably with the support of several Independents and Coalition TDs who have temporarily lost their party whips.

Mr McHugh has said he would now vote on every issue as an “individual” and would look at how every vote would affect his Donegal constituency.

Speaking on Friday, Ms McDonald said the current Coalition Government was “out of road” and the “case for, and the need for, a change in Government is unanswerable”.

While the Government could “cobble together” support for votes one at a time, the point was that the Government had lost its majority, she told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.

“It’s two years on, this Government has run out of road, run out of time and ideas... It’s time to hold them to account and end their term,” she said.

Ms McDonald said it was up to each individual member of the Dáil to reflect on the performance of this Government and issues such as the housing crisis and cost of living increases. Some might decide it was better “to hang in” rather than face an election at this juncture, she said.

Ms McDonald criticised the manner in which the Government dealt with redress for mica-affected homes and rushed legislation through the Dáil. The Government had lost touch with the people and “need to go,” she said.

While it is expected the Coalition should survive the vote of no confidence before the Oireachtas breaks for the summer, the lack of a Dáil majority will likely make for a difficult autumn term, as the Government seeks to deal with issues such as the rising cost of living.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has expressed confidence that the Government will defeat the Sinn Féin no confidence vote because of the relationships built with Independents. While he was not surprised by the move by Sinn Féin, it was unhelpful given the issues facing the country, he told RTÉ Radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show. “They will want to be as disruptive as possible.”

This was unfortunate at a time when the Government was going to spend the summer preparing for one of the most important Budgets in years. Mr Coveney said he would be “very confident” that the Government had a strong working majority. The Mica Redress Bill had passed with four votes despite the departure of Donegal TD Joe McHugh from the party.

“I think we will deal with the no confidence motion. I think we will win.” Mr Coveney said that it was a shame that the Dáil would be spending the last week of the current session debating the no confidence motion at a time when there was a range of issues that should be the object of focus. Many of the Independents would not want an election at this time, although he acknowledged that some would. He said he was confident that the relationships built with the Independents on key votes would give them a strong working majority.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee described the no confidence vote as Sinn Féin “talking out of both sides of their mouth”.

Speaking on Friday, Ms McEntee said the party had criticised the Government over the limited time being given to debate several pieces of legislation being voted on before the Dáil break.

“We now have a motion that is going to take up hours of Dáil time this week in our last week, which is not going to do anything because I have full confidence that Government will actually pass this, or will succeed in the no confidence motion,” she said.

Ms McEntee said she was “sorry” to see Mr McHugh vote against the Government but understood his reasons for doing so. “I do hope that in the coming months, we’ll see him back in the parliamentary party… I think he has made it clear that he will continue to work with us as colleagues in the Dáil,” she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter