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'The Taoiseach will go down in history as one of our finest taoisigh' - TDs back Enda 86 to 55

Earlier, Kenny said he is not perfect and ruled out an election in 2015.

Updated 6.13pm 

ENDA KENNY HAS told the Dáil he has no intention of calling a general election in 2015, saying it would create instability.

He was speaking at the start of a Dáil debate on a motion of confidence in the Taoiseach and the government that lasted over three hours.

In a manual walk-though vote TDs backed Enda Kenny and the government by 86 votes to 55.

Opening the debate this afternoon, Kenny said that no government is perfect and nor is he.

“No person is perfect, no government is perfect, nor am I,” Kenny told TDs, admitting ministers have not achieved all they had set out to do after delivering an extensive list of what has been achieved in recent years.

Kenny said that Ireland was “three months from running out of money” when the coalition government came to office in 2011 with “banks bust”, “house prices diving”, and “dole queues heaving.

Despite increasing speculation of an early general election, Kenny insisted to the Dáil: “I have no intention of creating any instability by calling a general election in 2015.”

He said he wanted to govern with Labour after the next election which he intends to call in the spring of 2016.

Later in the debate, the Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said ”the Taoiseach will go down in history as one of our finest Taoisigh” and said he was proud to have served with him.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, who attempted to topple Enda Kenny as Fine Gael leader in 2010, said the Taoiseach had “exceeded all expectations”.

“I think I can say that will all justification because I’ve been one of his critics,” Bruton told the Dáil.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 14.57.23 1 Enda Kenny listens to Joan Burton in the Dáil today Source: Oireachtas TV

Tánaiste Joan Burton said that she had “absolute confidence” in Enda Kenny and the government and insisted that tensions in coalition are healthy.

She quoted former US president John F Kennedy who said: “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the government “just does not get it” and believes it can “spin its way out of trouble”.

He described Kenny as “the least accessible Taoiseach of modern times when it comes to detailed interviews or debates”.

“This is an arrogant, out of touch and increasingly out control government which has been increasingly unfair and divisive,” he told the Dáil.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams hit out at various government cuts in recent years particularly the cut in the respite care grant paid to carers. He said that Irish Water had become a “toxic brand” and said that Kenny has refused to listen to his own backbenchers.

He told the Taoiseach to “resign, call a general election, have a real democratic revolution and let the citizens decide”.

People Before Profit deputy Richard Boyd-Barrett said that the real confidence vote in the government will take place on the streets of Dublin tomorrow when tens of thousands are expected to protest against water charges.

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His colleague on the left, Clare Daly, said: “You have succeeded in galvanising an opposition the length and breadth of this country.”

Fine Gael ministers Frances Fitzgerald and Simon Coveney both defended the government’s record in office. ”We will finish the job people elected us to do,” Coveney told TDs.

Cabinet colleagues Leo Varadkar and James Reilly also rowed in behind Enda Kenny as did Labour’s junior minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

While the Sports Minister Michael Ring gave an impassioned defence of the government’s record, while lambasting the opposition.

Ring told the house: “By God, if Sinn Féin get into government I don’t think I want to live in this country and if there’s one thing I love, it’s this country.”

By contrast, independent TD Mattie McGrath lambasted the coalition and various current and former ministers.

Today’s debate came after the coalition tabled its own motion of confidence in response to Sinn Féin attempts to table a motion of no confidence in Kenny and his government tonight and hold a vote tomorrow to coincide with the water protest.

The coalition instead devoted its own time to debating a confidence motion in itself with TDs spending the afternoon discussing the issue before a vote was called which it easily won.

Earlier, Socialist TD Joe Higgins described the debate as a “charade” and called for six hours of Dáil time to be devoted to it. However, his proposal was voted down.

The government motion delayed other Dáil business today with TDs now set to sit until 1am tomorrow morning.

State of the Nation: Who has confidence in Enda Kenny?

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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