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Dáil meets in Leinster House but moves across the Liffey for confidence vote in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

The Dáil met at 2pm and voted to relocate to the Convention Centre Dublin.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is facing increased pressure over the controversy.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is facing increased pressure over the controversy.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated Nov 10th 2020, 3:00 PM

THE DÁIL IS to being suspended this afternoon so TDs can move from Leinster House to the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) ahead of a confidence vote in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. 

Last Friday, Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no confidence in Varadkar that was to be debated this afternoon but this is now being usurped by a government motion of confidence in Varadkar. 

The Dáil met at 2pm and voted with reduced numbers, 26 votes to 19, to suspend for 90 minutes so TDs can relocate to the CCD and debate and vote on the confidence motion. 

Leaders’ Questions will take place in the CCD and the debate and vote of confidence in the Tánaiste will take place later this evening. 

Votes involving all 160 TDs must take place in the CCD due to social distancing requirements and the vote on Varadkar will require all TDs present. 

The government and opposition TDs have blamed each other for the requirement to move across the Liffey, with Fine Gael saying Sinn Féin should have flagged the no confidence vote before last Friday. 

Sinn Féin says the issue is due the government’s insistence on tabling its own vote of confidence in Varadkar, instead of proceeding with the no confidence motion. 

The Dáil usually sits in the CCD on Wednesdays to take votes in blocs while all members are present. It had been expected that Sinn Féin’s motion would be tabled today and voted on tomorrow.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Fine Gael’s Brendan Griffin TD said that confidence votes cannot be deferred. He also said that once the Dáil concluded last Thursday and its business was set for the following week it had to meet again today in Leinster House.

“Under standing orders you can’t have a deferred vote, or a reduced vote, on a motion of confidence or no confidence. That’s clear in the rules of the house,” he said.

Once they called the motion of no confidence, we were in a situation where that can’t be held in Leinster House on Tuesday night. So we have to move business over to the Convention Centre. It’s quite as simple as that. 

Sinn Féin has however hit out at government’s decision to table a confidence vote in Varadkar, saying that the government could have done this tomorrow instead. 

The party’s chief whip Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said this decision was about removing speaking time from the opposition. He told TheJournal.ie that changing the motion to a confidence vote means that government TDs would get about double the speaking time than if it were a no confidence motion. 

“Sinn Féin and the other opposition parties and groups put forward alternative scheduling options to the government but they have rejected them with excuses that don’t stack up,” he said. 

“It is clear that the government are trying to stymie opposition voices and are trying to distract from the real issue at hand by playing games with the Dáil schedule.”

The debate on the confidence motion is slated to begin before 6pm and last for 100 minutes. 

Under the bus

Sinn Féin tabled the motion of no confidence in Varadkar on Friday after the revelation that he had sent a copy of an agreement between the government and the Irish Medical Organisation to a rival GP group while he was taoiseach last year.

Varadkar faced questions in the Dáil last Tuesday over the revelations, which were first published by Village Magazine.

In the Dáil, the Tánaiste apologised for “errors of judgement” and said that he was “not close friends” with former NAGP president Maitiú Ó Tuathail, to whom he sent the agreement.  

Sinn Féin have accused Varadkar of throwing Ó Tuathail “under the bus” and tabled the no confidence motion claiming that he had “faced no sanction” over the controversy.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme over the weekend, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the sanction Varadkar faced was having to answer questions in the Dáil last week.

“The sanction is the accountability of Dáil Éireann and the sanction is all of us being aware of what are the standards that we have to adhere to,” Donohoe said.

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Much of the focus on the vote will be on backbench TDs from Fine Gael’s coalition partners in Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

Fianna Fáil TDs including Barry Cowen, Wille O’Dea and Niall Collins are among those who have said they will back Varadkar. 

Labour, the Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit have all said they will support Sinn Fein’s motion.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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