Saturday 21 April 2018

Chief Whip: FG should get used to Dáil defeats

'I won't go home crying': Chief Whip Regina Doherty
'I won't go home crying': Chief Whip Regina Doherty

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

The Government is set to suffer "loads" of defeats in the Dáil in the coming months and is likely to lose another vote as early as this week, according to newly appointed Chief Whip Regina Doherty.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, the Meath East TD warned colleagues they must get used to losing votes in the Dáil over bills tabled by the Opposition.

"Get used to it, because it's going to happen load of times," Ms Doherty said.

The weakness of the new administration was exposed when Fianna Fáil easily secured the passing of a bill on mortgages through the Dáil.

And Ms Doherty's warning comes as concerns mount within Fine Gael over the strength of the support being offered by Independent TDs.

Clare deputy Dr Michael Harty caused panic within the Fine Gael ranks after warning at the weekend he was not part of the Government and will therefore approach all votes - including motions of no confidence in either the Taoiseach or his ministers - on a strictly case-by-case basis.

Dr Harty told the 'Sunday Independent' he backed Enda Kenny as Taoiseach because he believed the country did not want to go back to the polls, but insisted he never committed to full-time support for the Government. But the newly elected TD clarified the issue yesterday, saying he will now back Mr Kenny on motions of no confidence and Budget votes.

"When I said on a case-by-case basis I meant votes in the Dáil and not votes which could bring down the Government," he said.

The GP also said he never sought a position in government from Fine Gael and insisted he was not "throwing his toys out of the pram" because he was not appointed as junior minister. During the week, Fine Gael backbenchers privately claimed Dr Harty sought a position as a reward for his support - a claim he emphatically denies.

One minister yesterday said Dr Harty's remarks about not being part of the Government show the current administration is effectively on a "knife edge".

A senior Fianna Fáil source, meanwhile, said the Government was being "propped up by Michael Lowry and could be pulled down by us". The figure reiterated remarks by party leader Micheál Martin that the plug could be pulled over "policy surprises".

But speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Doherty said it was the responsibility of Fine Gael to ensure there were no such surprises. She also said the Government was preparing to lose another vote this week, when Sinn Féin puts forward a private members' bill on water.

"Be prepared, we will probably lose a vote this week. But that's okay. I'm not going to go home crying," Ms Doherty said.

"Losing a vote on an issue of non-national importance is not going to be a crisis," she added.

Irish Independent

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