The government won a vote on a motion of confidence in the Dáil by a comfortable majority of 85 votes to 66 after gaining the support of some MPs and independent MPs who lost the coalition party whips.
Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no confidence in the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael-Greens administration on Tuesday. However, the government tabled a counter motion of confidence which passed the House on Tuesday evening.
Independents Michael Lowry, Cathal Berry, Peter Fitzpatrick and Seán Canney voted with the government, as did Sligo-Leitrim MP Marc MacSharry, formerly of Fianna Fáil; Neasa Hourigan and Patrick Costello, who lost the Green Party whip earlier this year for seconding an opposition motion; and Joe McHugh, who is without the Fine Gael whip.
The government lost its majority in the Dáil last week after Mr McHugh voted against legislation allowing mica-affected homeowners to access an improved grant scheme. A majority is 80 votes and Donegal TD’s departure meant the number on the Government benches fell to 79, prompting Sinn Féin’s motion.
The Coalition tabled a motion of self-confidence, which replaced Sinn Féin’s motion, and was debated in the Dáil on Tuesday afternoon, followed by a vote.
Different points of view
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was “a good time” to have an “honest debate between two very different points of view”.
“Fundamentally, this is a debate between those who believe in tackling problems and those who believe in exploiting them,” he said.
“It’s between those who have an honest and ambitious agenda based on what can be achieved, and those who have taken cynical and populist politics to a new level in our country.
“This is a debate between those who understand and respect diversity and politics and those who have introduced legal threats and online abuse as weapons to silence fellow Oireachtas and the media.”
Mr Martin said that by “all fair judgment” the Government had served the people of Ireland well on the “critical challenges” posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He said Ireland had been rated as one of the top three countries in the world for the resilience of its Covid response and had the second highest vaccination rate in Europe.
He also defended the government’s progress on housing, health and education and accused Sinn Féin of taking “anti-EU positions”.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said change was needed “now more than ever” and the government was “out of touch, clearly out of ideas and now out of time”.
“A government collapsing before our eyes, you have lost the support of the people if you ever had it,” she said.
“Last week you lost your majority in the Dáil. Now Taoiseach, you are scrambling to get the votes to win a motion of confidence. The writing is on the wall for you. This failed government should go, you should go now, and you should make way for a government that finally puts workers and families first.
Real estate disaster
Ms McDonald said the housing crisis had turned into a ‘housing disaster’ and the government had bragged about its latest shared ownership scheme, ‘a vintage Fianna Fáil movement if ever there was one. which was “designed to support exorbitant house prices and burden people with additional debt”.
The Dublin Central TD said “even though the dogs on the streets know the Minister [for Housing] O’Brien failed miserably.
She said it was “wacky” that the Taoiseach planned to return “the keys to the Taoiseach’s office” to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in December “to carry on as usual”.
“It is very clear that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been in power for far too long… families and workers across the country have paid a heavy price,” Ms McDonald added.
Labor leader Ivana Bacik said a change of government was needed because her party believed “the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green Party project has failed”.
“Despite their stated goals, they simply don’t deliver the desired and necessary results,” she said.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Sinn Féin’s motion was “deeply cynical”, “overtly political” and “unnecessary”.
“The government has a clear working majority, and that will come out of the vote tonight and I think, in fact, that Sinn Féin, often master tacticians, made a tactical error here because you allowed us to demonstrate that evening that we have a clear working majority, that we will be able to pass a budget and that this government can and will last a full term,” he said.
“We will prove by tonight’s votes that there is no prospect of a government led by Sinn Féin this year, next year, the year after and perhaps not even the year according to.
“It’s a show motion. It’s a publicity stunt, it’s been designed to get coverage and airtime for Sinn Féin politicians who have no real solutions to the problems our country is facing. confronted, just catchy sound bites that have been well tested with your expensive newsgroups.It’s also a waste of parliamentary time.