Sinn Féin has denied wanting to trigger a general election with the tabling of a motion of no confidence in the Tánaiste, but insists the party is ready for one if the Government collapses.
Outlining reasons for calling on Jobs Minister Frances Fitzgerald to go, TDs said she had failed to adequately answer questions about an email sent to her over whistleblower Maurice McCabe. This detailed a planned legal strategy that the Garda commissioner’s team had against Sgt McCabe in May 2015.
Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said: “She has failed to account for the fact that she has taken no action on foot of this email. She had prior knowledge of it despite the fact the Taoiseach had to correct the record a number of times. She had prior knowledge of it and she took no action. This is at the same time that she and her government said that they would offer full protection legally and otherwise and full support for whistleblowers.”
The motion has been tabled for next Wednesday and as such will force the Government to rally around Ms Fitzgerald.
Sinn Féin had held off on announcing the motion until today, saying the party would give the Tánaiste one more day to satisfactorily answer Dáil questions. This did not happens, it says.
Mr Ó Laoghaire said it appeared Ms Fitzgerald did not make any inquiries in May 2015 when she received the email about the Garda strategy for Sgt McCabe.
“She should have realised the significance of what was in that email, she should have inquired further.”
He said any legal restrictions only applied between lawyers for the department of justice and gardaí and not necessarily between the Tanaiste and the then commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
“She could have also instructed her own department’s legal team to challenge robustly any strategy of that kind to undermine Maurice McCabe’s credibility and integrity.”
Amid accusations of instigating a stunt or kangaroo court by using the Dáil to pursue an agenda, Sinn Féin robustly denied this. But TDs admitted they were election ready.
Asked if the party was willing to collapse the Government and Fianna Fáil’s support of it, Mr Ó Laoghaire said: “We are not trying to precipitate a general election and this can be avoided if the Tánaiste does the right thing or if the Government intervenes itself.
“Sinn Féin is ready for a general election,we have always been ready for a general election due to the nature of this Dáil. The make up of it, it requires that we are always prepared and we are not fearful of a general election.”
However, the party also maintains that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has questions to answer after it emerged yesterday that the email in question sat in his department for a number of days before being passed on to the Tánaiste and before the Taoiseach found out about it.
“He needs to answer why he sat next to Leo Varadkar [in the Dáil] who put the wrong information on the record a number of times this week... he needs to answer why that happened.”
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