Sinn Féin to bring motion of no confidence in Minister for Justice Helen McEntee

Mary Lou McDonald accuses Government of forcing party’s hand by ‘not listening’ amid safety issues

The Government’s majority is set to be bolstered by support from a number of Independent TDs in a vote on a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Minister for Justice Helen McEntee next week.

Several Independent TDs signalled on Friday that they would either vote with the Government or would not support the Sinn Féin motion, which will be put down next Tuesday.

The motion, which is expected to be defeated, comes in the wake of criticism of the Minister and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in the wake of rioting in Dublin last week which followed the stabbing of a number of children and their carer outside a school in Parnell Square.

Outside Leinster House on Friday morning, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said control was lost in the city centre for a number of hours during the violence.


“It’s clear that the riots, this violence, this public disorder could have been foreseen, should have been foreseen, could have been prevented or contained through earlier action on the day had there been any leadership from the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice,” she said.

However, Government sources were bullish, saying the coalition has the numbers to pass a countermotion in the Dáil expressing confidence in Ms McEntee.

Galway West TD Noel Grealish said he would be “more than confident” in Ms McEntee and predicted that most of the eight-member Regional Independent group which he is a member of would be supporting her.

Louth’s Peter Fitzpatrick, also a member of that group, said he would support her, while Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten said he would not be supporting the Sinn Féin motion and would be talking to colleagues in advance of the vote. Kildare South TD Cathal Berry said he will be voting confidence in the Minister, while Waterford’s Matt Shanahan said he was undecided. Galway East TD Seán Canney said he would not support the motion.

Neasa Hourigan, the Green TD for Dublin Central who is without the Government whip, said she would not vote confidence in Ms McEntee but would offer a pairing arrangement to the Government and would not vote no confidence. Marc MacSharry, the Sligo-Leitrim TD, said he would not support the motion.

Clare TD Michael McNamara and Tipperary’s Mattie McGrath said they would not vote confidence in Ms McEntee, while Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae indicated he was undecided. The Social Democrats and People Before Profit will vote no confidence. The Labour Party is also expected to, but will put down an amendment and has been critical of Sinn Féin’s decision. Roscommon Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice is expected to vote against Ms McEntee.

Independent TD Michael Lowry has already indicated he would not support a no-confidence motion. Former Sinn Féin and now Independent TD Carol Nolan confirmed she would vote no confidence in the Minister. Sligo Leitrim TD Marian Harkin said she would not vote no confidence.

Inside Politics podcast: Riot response a major challenge for McEntee

Listen | 33:45

In a statement, a spokesman for the Minister defended her response and accused Sinn Féin of point scoring.

“The Minister’s thoughts remain with those injured in the appalling stabbings last Thursday, particularly the small girl and her carer who remain in hospital,” a statement said in response to the Sinn Féin motion.

“Sinn Féin has again shown that they prioritise politics and point scoring rather than being united in facing the thugs and criminals responsible for the riots in Dublin.”

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times