McEntee says motion of confidence over handling of Dublin riots and violence is a ‘distraction’

Government expects to win confidence motion in relation to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee comfortably with support of some Independent TDs

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said that she believes today’s motion of confidence in her is a “distraction” as she defended the Garda response to the recent violence in Dublin.

Ms McEntee faces a Sinn Féin motion of confidence this afternoon in the Dáil, which the Government expects to win.

Speaking before Cabinet on Tuesday morning, she said she believes “this is a distraction from the huge amount of work that needs to be done.”

“And as you see from Cabinet today, I’m getting on with my work and there’s a huge amount to be done.”

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Asked about the events late last month in Dublin, and about what went wrong, she said she believes the gardaí responded “in a really exceptional way. I think the way in which they maintained order in such a possibly dangerous situation was excellent. And obviously I will receive a further full report from the Garda Commissioner in time. But there will always be lessons that need to be learned, but I certainly think that they responded in the most appropriate way possible at the time.”

“I have been working closely with people right across the city centre here in Dublin to make sure that they are safe, that they feel safe, and that our city is a welcoming city for everyone.”

The debate and vote will be held at 3.50pm on Tuesday and will finish before 6.30pm.

The motion has been tabled by Sinn Féin in light of the looting and violence which followed an attack on young schoolchildren in Dublin city centre last month.

The Government has dismissed the motion as a “stunt” but Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party was “forced to put down a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Justice because this Government is not listening”. She said the Minister “refused to acknowledge the political failures that allowed our communities to become unsafe”.

Speaking about the motion on Monday, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris described the confidence motion as “a stunt”. He said gratuitous “thuggery and criminality” were involved in the riots but the spark was a small group of people on the far right, as well as misinformation and inaccurate stories on social media.

It comes as Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan has been offered a pair for the vote and will be able to stay on at the Cop28 negotiations in Dubai.

He had been due to fly home overnight on Monday to vote and then to return on an overnight flight to the UN climate talks on Wednesday, but TD Jennifer Whitmore of the Social Democrats had offered him a pair, he said at a press briefing in Dubai. He added that he had consulted the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, who both agreed it was best that he stay at Cop28.

Ms McEntee is expected to win the vote comfortably with the additional support of a number of Independent TDs who have indicated they will either abstain or vote with the Government.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times