Leo Varadkar speaking this morning in Dubai. Lauren Boland/The Journal
Dublin riot

Taoiseach criticises 'divisive' McEntee no confidence vote and believes it 'can only fail'

Leo Varadkar, speaking this morning to The Journal at COP28 in Dubai, said that he believed Irish citizens want to see politicians united against the rioters.

THE TAOISEACH HAS criticised Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats for the “divisive” no confidence vote in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and declared that it will fail.  

Leo Varadkar, speaking this morning to reporters at COP28 in Dubai, said that he believed Irish citizens want to see politicians united against the rioters. 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald announced yesterday that her party has tabled a no confidence motion in the minister in the wake of last week’s rioting in Dublin. 

The Social Democrats have also given their support to the motion. 

“I think first of all, in relation to the motion of confidence, I think that Sinn Féin, Social Democrats have got it wrong.

“The country was shocked, traumatised by what happened last Thursday in Dublin, I think most people in the country want us to work together to support the gardaí, to strengthen law and order and also want those of us who are at the centre of politics, those mainstream parties, to stand together against extreme forces.

“I really think that Sinn Féin, Social Democrats are making a mistake by bringing this divisive motion to the Dáil next week, which can only fail,” he said. 

Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader and Minister for Transport will have to travel home from Dubai for the vote – he will then fly back out to the event.   

“He does, unfortunately and that’s not ideal but there are no pairs for confidence motions other than for illness.

Minister Ryan will have to go home and come back again. Of course, he will offset the emissions, we have a mechanism for doing that, but we’d much rather if it weren’t necessary but, like I say, this is the motion put down by Sinn Féin,” he added. 

The Taoiseach was also asked about the criticism of proposed hate speech legislation by X, formerly Twitter, owner Elon Musk. 

Varadkar did not address Musk’s tweets directly but said that freedom of expression is protected in the Irish Constitution and said that the new laws were designed to bring current laws to a more modern setting.  

“Ireland already has laws when it comes to incitement to hatred, and incitement to violence. There’s nothing new about that.

“The difficulty is that our laws are out of date. There haven’t kept up to date with the electronic age and the social media age. What I can guarantee people is that freedom of expression is protected in our Constitution. It’s protected in the new law.

“But there’s a line that people shouldn’t cross. And if you’re deliberately disseminating information, these days almost entirely online, it used to be in books and publications, now it’s almost entirely online and that’s designed to mislead people and to stir up hatred, which can then lead to violence, or lead to crimes being committed to well, you know, we need the powers to deal deal with that. And the gardaí particular wants us to have those powers,” he explained. 

Varadkar said that technology has made it easier for extremists to disseminate their views across the online environment. 

“And of course, they have their very extreme views, conspiracy theories, affirmed by each other online and then amplified. And that’s what’s dangerous.

“You can’t put technology back in the box. I’m in favor of the digital age. But we have to make sure that our society and our laws keep up with that reality,” he added.  

With reporting from Lauren Boland in Dubai.