Independent TDs set to back Fine Gael Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

Multiple representatives remain undecided but Coalition expects to win no-confidence vote if tabled

A large number of Independent TDs look set to row in behind the Government ahead of a mooted vote of confidence in Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

Sinn Féin have called on Ms McEntee to resign after the riots in Dublin last week and will decide by tomorrow whether to table a motion next week or not.

While a party spokesman declined to comment on whether a decision has been made or not, Ms McEntee’s position within the Coalition and among Independent TDs is considered safe.

Riot response a major challenge for McEntee

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A Government source said the Coalition expects to win such a vote comfortably.


A large number of Independent TDs have also confirmed that they will abstain or vote with the Government if any such motion is tabled. However, Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan — who previously lost the party whip for voting against the Government on a motion regarding the National Maternity Hospital — said she does not have full confidence in the policing plan, meaning she could vote against the Government again.

Sligo Leitrim TD Marian Harkin said she would “not vote no confidence as I believe a Minister resigning would be handing a victory to the far right and [would be] unhelpful at this point”. She said she may abstain.

Galway East TD Seán Canney said he “believes at this juncture that a vote of confidence would give a status to these thugs that they do not deserve. We need to unite politically to defend our democracy.”

Former Fianna Fáil and now Independent TD Marc MacSharry also said he did not think it was the time for such a vote.

“I totally condemn last weekend’s thuggery … but it is not the time for throwing Ministers and commissioners under the bus. I would much prefer to see a proper debate on the urgent adjustments that are required to our policies on justice and immigration.”

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Independent TD Michael Lowry has already indicated he would not support a no-confidence motion.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said he had not yet made up his mind and the same is the case for Waterford TD Matt Shanahan. Cathal Berry said his group, the Regional Independent Group, have not yet discussed the motion. Former Sinn Féin and now Independent TD Carol Nolan confirmed she would vote no confidence in the Minister.

Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae also said he has not yet considered the matter.

There is little sign of division on the matter within the Cabinet, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin backing Ms McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

Mr Varadkar said Ms McEntee had been “leading” and “extremely active” on the issues of law and order and criminal justice during her term in office.

Mr Martin also gave the Minister and commissioner his backing and strongly criticised Sinn Féin.

“I’ve observed Sinn Féin now for the last four to five years. It is without question a party that seeks to exploit every issue that arises as opposed to coming forward with constructive ideas as to how to resolve them. I have absolute confidence in the Minister for Justice … I regret Sinn Féin’s knee-jerk response is to go for the political jugular. I think the Garda Commissioner has approached these issues honourably, steadfastly and with termination.”

The Social Democrats, Labour and People Before Profit have all indicated that they would vote no confidence in Ms McEntee should Sinn Féin table a motion.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times