Storm over riots continues to rage but McEntee and Harris remain firmly in place

Inside Politics: One week since the disruption in Dublin, Sinn Féin yet to indicate if it will table no confidence motions

It is a week since the riots that wreaked havoc in Dublin and landed Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in a political storm.

But despite strong criticism from the Opposition — including calls from Sinn Féin for their resignations — and some grumbling among Fianna Fáil backbenchers and Senators, the Minister and the Commissioner remain in place and show no signs of going anywhere.

Mr Harris rejected calls that he should resign and told the Oireachtas Committee on Justice that gardaí are to be equipped with Tasers, water cannons and stronger pepper spray as part of measures to enable the force to respond to any repeat of last week’s violence in Dublin.

Ms McEntee announced that the current Garda recruit class will graduate from Templemore a month early, on December 15th, so they will be available to work on the streets the following day for the Christmas period.


She has also emphasised legislative measures she believes can help prevent riots, including the planned hate speech laws and the law to allow gardaí to have body-worn cameras.

Filling in for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Leaders’ Questions, Ms McEntee scolded Sinn Féin for its use of a picture of a man apparently intoxicated outside the school where last week’s knife attack on three children and their carer took place.

She told Dublin Fingal TD Louise O’Reilly that politicians had a role to be “responsible” and she should consider that before “you start waving pictures around”.

Sinn Féin sustained some criticism for its use of the picture of the potentially vulnerable individual, which was also posted by party leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Despite calling for Ms McEntee’s resignation, there has been no indication as yet on whether Sinn Féin will follow-through by tabling a motion of no confidence in the Dáil.

Past experience during this Government suggests it would be a futile exercise. As Jennifer Bray reports, there is a large number of independent TDs that would likely row in behind the Government.

Coalition figures have argued that the departure of Ms McEntee – or Mr Harris – would be offering a victory for the rioters and far-right agitators that helped spark the chaos.

The Government could privately welcome a motion of no confidence in the hope of drawing a line under the political fallout from last week’s violent scenes in the capital.

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Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan is due to take parliamentary questions from 9am.

Next up is Minister for Education Norma Foley at 10.30am.

Leaders’ Questions is at noon.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin is due to respond to parliamentary questions from 1.44pm.

There are three hours set aside for debate on the Government’s bid to overhaul the planning system – the Planning and Development Bill 2023 at second stage. It is 712 pages long. Expect this one to get technical.

Topical Issues will be raised by TDs from 6.15pm.

There is a motion on the Special Report by the Ombudsman for Children entitled “Safety and Welfare of Children in Direct Provision” to be debated at 7.03pm.

The Public Accounts Committee will look at the accounts of the Department of Finance as well as issues such as the reporting of Ireland’s EU transactions and the performance of the Ireland Apple Escrow Fund from 9.30am. In their article teeing-up the meeting, Conor Pope and Eoin Burke-Kennedy report that the fall in inflation to its lowest rate in more than two years has been welcomed, but there are warnings there may be a sting in the tail of the cost-of-living crisis. However, the Department of Finance will tell the PAC that the impact of higher interest rates has yet to be “fully felt”.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue will appear before the Committee on Environment as part of its review of the Climate Action Plan 2023 at 9.30am. The same committee will quiz Minister for the Environment and Climate Action Eamon Ryan from 1.30pm.

The Committee on Petitions will look at a petition on “reform of insurance for thatched heritage buildings”, from 12.30pm.

The full Dáil, Seanad and Committee schedules can be found here.

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