LATEST: Government wins motion of confidence

  • Pressure is building on Taoiseach Enda Kenny regarding his Government's handling of the Maurice McCabe controversy
  • Two Fine Gael TDs have now publically called on Taoiseach to clarify when he intends to step down as leader
  • Dáil will debate a motion of confidence in the Government from 7pm tonight
  • Independent Alliance ministers, who met this morning, appear unable to support that motion.
  • The Independent Alliance are to support a motion of confidence in the Government
  • The Government have won the motion of confidence in itself by 57 votes to 52

Update 11.05 The Government has just won a motion of confidence in itself in the Dáil by 57 votes to 52, with Fianna Fáil abstaining.

Update 9.30pm: The Government is on course to win a motion of confidence in the next hour in the Dáil.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny led the debate tonight offering garda whistleblower Sergeant Maurice McCabe a full apology for the way he was treated.

The debate came after the first signs of a leadership heave against Mr Kenny, with Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney calling at the Parliamentary Party meeting for Fine Gael to be 'prepared for an election'.

Mr Varadkar also went into the Dáil and declared Maurice McCabe to be a hero.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe attacked Sinn Féin saying they'd debased the Dáil, and see every problem as an advantage for political gain: "Your efforts here tonight, they are malicious, they are nakedly political and they are aimed at destabilising the Government that is doing its best on behalf of those who we are privilaged to serve."

Update 8pm: The Independent Alliance will vote confidence in the Government tonight after a meeting with the Taoiseach.

The group says they got a commitment to hire an international policing expert to investigate the matters of public concern about Garda ethos and culture.

Fianna Fáil's to abstain in the vote, as part of the confidence and supply agreement, meaning the minority government will survive.

But party leader Micheál Martin says they are on their last chance: "The events of this last week, have put the agreement under serious strain.

"We do want a change of Government, but we also feel that this Dáil has not fulfilled its obligations to the people who we are elected to serve."

Update 7pm: The Independence Alliance considered pulling out of Government over the way in which the Taoiseach and other Government Ministers have handled the Maurice McCabe scandal, writes Political reporter Elaine Loughlin.

While the five members of the Independent Alliance have announced they will be supporting the motion of confidence in the Government in the Dáil tonight, when asked they failed to express confidence in Enda Kenny.

At a press briefing after their meeting with Mr Kenny, the Alliance said they still unsatisfied with his version of events.

Transport Minister Shane Ross said the group had told Mr Kenny that they "were very disappointed with a lot of confusion that had occurred in government in recent days and that we found it unacceptable and we hoped it wouldn't happen in the future".

Asked if a withdrawal from government was an option Mr Ross said: "We considered it".

When Mr Ross was asked if the Alliance have confidence in Mr Kenny he said it would "not be appropriate" to suggest anything.

"What we have said about that is this, we are upset and very distressed by what's has happened, both with the Taoiseach another members of Government in the past few days, we do not think it would be appropriate in this situation where we are putting down a motion of confidence in the Taoiseach to suggest that we have no confidence in the Taoiseach."

Update 5.55pm: The Independent Alliance has announced that it is to support a motion of confidence in the Government.

It comes after The Taoiseach met with the Alliance this afternoon to discuss their confidence in the Government over the handling of the Maurice McCabe affair.

Speaking in the past few minutes, the Transport Minister Shane Ross says the Alliance have secured a commitment to hire an international policing expert to investigate the matters of public concern about Garda ethos and culture.

Mr Ross says the group has serious concerns about the ongoing difficulties in the Garda sector, and wants them investigated.

He said: "We in the Independent Alliance have therefore secured a commitment from the minister for Justice today to appoint without delay an independent international policing expert to carry out a thorough investigation into the wider and more fundamental issues of public concern which have emerged relating to the administration, ethos and culture of An Garda Síochána."

Update 12.50pm: A leading Fine Gael backbencher has said the party needs to address the leadership issue within the next two months, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.

Speaking on his local radio station, KCLR live, Carlow/Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan today said Enda Kenny should depart as leader in the “near future” because an early General Election is likely.

Mr Phelan said that the Government is in a “precarious position” and that Fine Gael TDs need to “act” in order to avoid catastrophe.

KCLR Live presenter John Masterson asked when this should happen and Mr Phelan replied: "Within six to eight weeks. I do think there should be a new leader of Fine Gael in the near future because we will probably have another general election in the near future."

The remarks come ahead of tonight’s meeting of the parliamentary party.

There is speculation within Leinster House that Mr Kenny will be told to spell out his exit strategy and a timeframe for his departure.

Last Monday, Fine Gael Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock called on Mr Kenny to set out "a deadline for the future not only for himself but for the sake of Fine Gael party", saying the issue needed to be cleared up "sooner rather than later".

Senior ministers Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Simon Harris have been approached in recent days by concerned Fine Gael TDs and senators deeply concerned about Mr Kenny’s leadership.

The feeling is that the party must unite to overcome the McCabe crisis, but that the issue of the leadership must be addressed in the near future.

Update 12.30pm: The Independent Alliance is to hold a showdown meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny this afternoon at 4pm to address their concerns over the Sgt McCabe crisiswrites Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.

The Irish Examiner understands that the Alliance, which have been locked in an emergency meeting since early this morning, are dismayed at Mr Kenny's handling of the crisis since last week, particularly his admission that he made up a conversation with Childrens' Minister Katherine Zappone.

Ministers Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Sean Canney along with alliance whip Kevin 'Boxer' Moran have been holding talks as to whether they can express confidence in Mr Kenny and the Government when the Dáil votes on the matter tonight.

The Dáil debate is to commence at 7pm and conclude at 10.15pm with the vote to be taken at that point.

As it is to be a walk through vote, as opposed to an electronic vote, the result is expected about 10.45pm.

After a rocky day yesterday, Mr Kenny has been facing further questions in the Dáil this afternoon ahead of a meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher described the Government’s response to the whistleblower controversy as being “incoherent and shambolic”, but said that his party was committed to stability.

Mr Kelleher said Fianna Fáil will not bring down the Government and said he did “not believe that there was any malicious intent by the Taoiseach to mislead either the Dáil or the public”.

Update 12.24pm: Speaking at a jobs announcement in Dublin this morning, the Taoiseach admitted: "It's a lot easier talk to you that some of the other people I've to talk to these days."

Update 10.48am: Health Minister Simon Harris has called for “cool heads” among the Independent Alliance Ministers ahead of this evening’s motion of confidence in the Government.

“The Independent Alliance remaining in Government and as a part of Government is crucial to the Government’s survival and I absolutely hope it happens,” he said.

“They have many excellent people playing a very important role, and I think it’s a time for cool heads, it’s a time for people to deliberate on the important issues, but ultimately it’s time for people to put the national interest first.

“And the best thing we can do as a Government and as an Oireachtas is set up a full public inquiry to address these very, very serious allegations.”

The group is understood to be unhappy with the Taoiseach's performance in the Dáil last night.

They had hoped to raise their concerns at a Cabinet meeting this morning - but that has now been postponed until tomorrow.

The Independent Alliance are also seeking a meeting with the Taoiseach.

Earlier:

The crisis in Government has escalated this morning as an emergency meeting of the Independent Alliance has been called for 10am, writes Daniel McConnell, Political Editor.

The Alliance are dismayed at what they see are the inconsistencies in the versions of events of the past week in the Government’s handling of the Sgt Maurice McCabe saga.

Alliance Ministers have been told to clear their diaries for the day and have been requested to gather in Dublin to discuss their next step, but the Irish Examiner understands that several members of the Alliance would have grave difficulty in expressing confidence in Enda Kenny as Taoiseach.

The Dáil is due to discuss a motion of confidence in Government at 7pm this evening, with voting set to take place at 10.15pm. A result is expected at around 10.45pm.

As of now, Independent Alliance ministers Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, John Halligan and Sean Canney along with Kevin 'Boxer' Moran appear unable to support that motion.


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