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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
dail motion

Taoiseach confident government will defeat no-confidence vote tomorrow

Several independent TDs have said they will not support the Sinn Féin motion.

LAST UPDATE | Jul 11th 2022, 3:32 PM

TAOISEACH MICHEAL MARTIN has said he believes the government will survive a no-confidence vote tomorrow, accusing Sinn Féin of playing to “destructive politics” by tabling it.

While he conceded he does not “take anything for granted”, Martin said he is confident that “a majority of TDs believe in getting things done.”

Speaking to media at the Ballymun Family Resource Centre in Dublin today, the Taoiseach said: “We want to solve problems … Sinn Féin want to exploit problems.

“The Irish people do not want a general election now … last week, Sinn Féin were looking for a cost of living package, an emergency budget. This week they’re looking for a general election.

“A general election would mean no budgetary package over the next while and would lead to paralysis.

“We are working to secure as much support as we can in the Dáil.”

Sinn Féin tabled the motion of no confidence after the government lost its Dáil majority last week.

Fine Gael TD for Donegal Joe McHugh resigned the party whip after he voted against the government on a mica redress package.

At a separate media briefing this morning, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said “the government will win” tomorrow.

“The government remains focused on actually preparing the budget.

“This is a stunt – it’s a stunt opposition parties are perfectly entitled to put down … but it is a stunt.”

A number of independent TDs have indicated they will back the government in the vote, as will McHugh and former Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, chief whip Jack Chambers said the government would survive the vote with a “clear majority”, and branded the confidence vote a “stunt” by Sinn Féin.

Asked if he is confident that the government has the numbers, Chambers said: “Yes, I am.

“And the Government will reaffirm its majority tomorrow, and there will be a clear margin in favour of the Government.

“This is a stunt by Sinn Féin. It’s a cynical and negative attempt purely to undermine the government.”

Chambers, who is the Fianna Fáil TD for West Dublin, said the public expect “constructive policies” from their representatives.

“The public who are listening here expect constructive politics from everyone who represents them in the Dáil,” he said.

“This week, there’s no proposals from Sinn Féin on housing, no proposals from Sinn Féin on the cost of living, no proposals from Sinn Féin on reforming our health system.”

He added: “I think this is just a cynical attempt to try and pursue their path to power.

“It’s not about solutions. It’s not about following through, and this gives the Government an opportunity to set out our delivery across many areas, on how we are fulfilling the objectives in the programme for Government on housing and the cost of living, and on healthcare reform.”

Martin’s leadership

Fianna Fáil came under fire late last week following a meeting among a selection of the party’s backbenchers on Wednesday. 

A number of those in attendance have denied that the purpose of the meeting was to question the Taoiseach’s leadership, despite the fact that invitations were spread via “word-of-mouth” and that Martin himself was out of the country at the time of its occurrence. 

A dozen of the 29 back benchers and senators who were present for the meeting told RTÉ News that the discussion had “sincere beginnings”.

It was intended to be a space for back benchers, many of whom felt that they struggled to have their voices heard by those at a higher level in the party, to air their views without the pressure of doing so with Fianna Fáil ministers present, they said. 

However, this fact that ministerial party members were not asked to attend has led to some conspiratorial theories on what took place throughout the meeting. 

Addressing reporters today, Martin dismissed claims of a lack of confidence in his leadership. 

When asked if his party was in fatal decline and if he accepted responsibility for the drop in Fianna Fáil’s popularity in recent polls, Martin said: “I’ve read about [such claims] for 14 years, predictions that we’d be finished… which is nonsense.”

“I’m around long enough to know that the quality of the party is strong, and the quality of parliamentary party is very strong,” he said, adding that Fianna Fáil has been “the largest party in local government since 2014″. 

“I’ve been traveling around the country, getting a very positive response… I engage with our TDs all the time. 

“Many TDs have made it very clear to me that last week’s meeting was around their need to articulate and develop some policies. But again, we’ve created the policy forums [within the party]. We don’t have any difficulty with that,” he said. 

“Not enough”

Independent TD Marian Harkin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme that she will be supporting Sinn Féin’s no confidence motion. 

The Sligo-Leitrim TD said that while the Government has had success on an “overarching level” regarding Covid-19, Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol, she doesn’t see “the benefits of that trickling down to a very large section of the Irish people”.

“Housing and health are two benchmarks set down by which we could measure the success of this government, and they’ve not delivered,” she said.

“And on issues that really matter to me personally, carers, disability and crucially, a balance of development between the regions, for me, this government has not passed that test.”

Harkin said the Government’s policies are “very similar” to the previous Fine Gael-led administration. “I think there have been some tweaks, but not enough,” she added.

She also said that she believes that several Independent TDs who supported the coalition when it was formed will vote against them.

The Government faces a confidence vote on Tuesday after losing its majority in the Dáil.

In May, Green TDs Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello had the whip removed from them after they voted against the Government on an issue related to the relocation of the National Maternity Hospital.

That came after MacSharry quit Fianna Fáil last year.

On Sunday, McHugh and MacSharry said they would vote against the motion.

McHugh told RTÉ he would not be “hastening Sinn Féin’s pursuit of power”.

Meanwhile, MacSharry said a general election would not address the issues of housing and homelessness.

“It will simply take politicians’ focus off the real issues for up to six months,” he told the broadcaster.

Yesterday, Hourigan said she was still undecided on whether she would support the Government in the motion.

She also said Government whips had not yet been in contact with her about the confidence vote.

- Reporting by Emer Moreau, Sarah McGuinness and PA 

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