Bid defeated | 

Government wins vote of no confidence in Dáil by 85 votes to 66

The Sinn Féin bid to unseat the Government was defeated in the Dáil by a margin of 85 votes to 66, with one abstention.
Micheál Martin

Micheál Martin© PA

Senan MolonyIndependent.ie

The Sinn Féin bid to unseat the Government was defeated in the Dáil by a margin of 85 votes to 66, with one abstention.

The result, at 7.15pc, was better for the Coalition than many had expected, with the Government having substituted a confidence motion.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government’s working majority was evident from the result, and Sinn Féin had inadvertently demonstrated that the Government would pass a Budget and ensure there would be no SF government next year, the year after that, or possibly even afterwards.

If the motion had been passed, the Budget would have been pushed back and the people would not get relief ahead of the winter. It was a good Government, he insisted, with the highest number of people in work in the history of the State and record FDI. Jobs were being created in all regions.

All change isn’t change for the better, and Sinn Fein’s would be change for the worse, he said. In a few years there would be fewer jobs and less investment because SF “doesn’t understand how the economy works.”

Earlier the Taoiseach faced into the Sinn Féin motion of no confidence by saying it was a debate between those who believe in tackling problems and those who believe in exploiting them.

Micheal Martin said: “We are being told the Government has supposedly failed because it hasn’t implemented its full programme in just two years.

"Last week Mary Lou McDonald insisted Sinn Féin should only be judged after 10 years and two full terms of office. As always, double standards are the watchword of this cynical opposition.”

“Ireland is a modern and dynamic country, with its problems to overcome. But those who denied the successes “are simply showing that they have no interest in honest debate,” he said.

“They are proving that the progress of our country, and the future of our people, is not actually their core concern,” the Taoiseach said.

“Shouting ‘not enough’, ‘more’ and ‘what-about’ represents an approach to politics that is, at heart, deeply dishonest.”

The two most urgent crises facing the coalition taking office were a historic pandemic and the fastest moving recession ever recorded, he said.

“I promised that we would do everything possible to mitigate the terrible toll and to work to achieve as fast a recovery as possible. By any fair judgement. this Government has served the Irish people well on these critical challenges.”

Ireland had been assessed one of the top three in the world for the resilience of its Covid response. It had the second-highest vaccination rate in Europe.

“We got more right than the great majority of countries. If Ireland had performed at the average EU level, there would have been over 4,500 more Covid deaths.

“If we had performed at the same level as the UK, there would have been 5,500 more deaths.”

Ministers had to endure attacks on the vaccine rollout as a shambles, he said, but “it was the largest public health mobilisation in Irish history, and frankly the glitches it had were minor.” Meanwhile youth unemployment in Ireland was the lowest in Europe.

“Sustained government action has helped our country emerge from recession faster and more successfully than most,” the Taoiseach added, but “the hard yards of working to ensure high levels of employment and a strong economy is something which appears to bore the Opposition.”

The Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the motion was tabled because change was needed now more than ever. The Government was out of touch, out of ideas and now out of time, she said.

“A Government that is unravelling before our very eyes has lost the support of the people. Last week it lost its Dáil majority, now the Taoiseach scrambles to get the votes to win a confidence motion,” she said.

“The writing is on the wall -- this coalition is coming apart at the seams.”

The coalition should go now and make way for a government that will finally put workers and families first, she said.

“Not only has this Government failed to make improvement, but it has in fact managed to make a bad situation so much worse. This is especially true in housing, healthcare and the cost-of-living crisis that has literally pushed households to the brink.

“The Government has no urgency, no vision, no capacity to grasp the severity of these problems in the lives of ordinary people,” Ms McDonald said.

“By any fair judgment, the Taoiseach is failing.

“Far too often the message from Government to the people has been ‘suck it up, get on with it, shop around, you are on your own’. Well, that is just not good enough.

"People expect so much more from those they elect -- those who they pay very handsomely to get the job done.

“Let us not forget this coalition came to office declaring that it would fix housing. This was a very bold statement that has not aged well. On the Taoiseach's watch the housing crisis has escalated to a housing disaster.”

Darragh O’Brien, Fianna Fáil minister for housing, said however that Mary Lou McDonald had demonstrated that her arrogance was “not just stratospheric – it has gone intergalactic.”

It would take Nasa to track its progress, he added. Meanwhile Sinn Fein blocked progress and sowed discontent, he said.

Labour Party leader Ivan Bacik said the country needed a new Government and the people also needed a pay rise.

The tone of the debate was “mock outrage and mock anger,” she claimed, “but the Government we need is one of the Left… and that is not this Government.”

Sinn Féin spokesman on housing Eoin Ó Broin cited homelessness and alleged policy failures on the accommodation crisis – which Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said had “lapsed into a disaster,” echoing the description of President Michael D Higgins.

Just one in two were likely to have become home-owners by the time they retired. Deliberate housing policies were making homes unaffordable, she said.

Paul Murphy of People Before Profit said the Government is doing a good job at representing the people who are profiting from the housing emergency and the cost-of-living crisis.


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