Dail votes confidence in Alan Shatter
Vote follows one of the most bitter and personalised Dail debates in months
The Dail has voted confidence in Alan Shatter following one of the most bitter and personalised Dail debates in months.
The Justice Minister appeared strained after he came under sustained attacks from the Opposition over his handling of the garda and penalty points controversy.
The debate took place just hours after a package containing white powder, a nazi photograph and a swastika emblem was discovered at the minister's home in Ballinteer, South Dublin.
While both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs condemned the placing of the package, both parties were at odds over Mr Shatter's performance as Justice Minister.
Fianna Fail's vote of no confidence was successfully defeated by 95-51 following an at times acrimonious debate.
Fianna Fáil accused Mr Shatter of overseeing a "tangled web of confusion" and of shafting the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. The party's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said he believed Taoiseach Enda Kenny has now lost confidence in him.
The most emotive contribution of the night was delivered by Independent TD Mick Wallace who accused the minister of "game-playing" by arriving late to the debate.
"It’s one sham after another – penalty points internal reports, the Roma children, pretending there’s no racial profiling, pretending there’s no bug in the GSOC, one weak report after another," Mr Wallace screamed.
"The people do not believe that the minister has any credibility. And the Taoiseach now is backing him 100 per cent. Well you know what – he’s losing credibility as well, because he’s standing over the indefensible," he added.
As expected, Fine Gael and Labour TDs rallied behind their embattled minister and accused Fianna Fáil of trying to bring down Mr Shatter and destabilise the government.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan accused Fianna Fáil of launching a "vicious assault on a star player on the opposing team".
"Like a defeated team, it has decided to play the man and not the ball," Mr Noonan said.
Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, said the motion of no confidence represented "the most cynical move by Fianna Fáil" since 2011.
"You wonder why you are languishing at 20pc in the polls," she said.
Her party colleague and Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O'Connor, said the motion was distracting from the real issues facing the country.
"The people of Ireland are not interested in a personalised attack against Minister Shatter," she said.
Outspoken Labour TD Arthur Spring said the "debate has become about pedantics and semantics that are not issues in peoples lives".
By Niall O'Connor