Saturday 18 November 2017

Harty and Lowry yet to decide if they'll back Government in vote

Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan speaks to the press on Maurice McCabe at Leinster House. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan speaks to the press on Maurice McCabe at Leinster House. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

TWO TDs who have been supporting the Government have yet to decide if they will support the administration as it faces a vote of no-confidence over the whistleblower scandal.

Independents Dr Michael Harty and Michael Lowry were last night still considering whether or not they would oppose Sinn Féin's motion calling for the Government to resign and a fresh general election to be called.

The Fine Gael-led minority Government needs Fianna Fáil to abstain from the vote to avoid the collapse of the Dáil.

A spokeswoman for Micheál Martin's party last night said that Fianna Fáil still intends to abstain.

The Labour Party, AAA-PBP and the Social Democrats will all be voting with Sinn Féin and several independents are expected to do the same.

Clare TD Dr Harty - who supports the Government on a case-by-case basis - told the Irish Independent he has to consider what to do "in the light of unfolding events". He said he didn't yet have "sufficient information" to make a decision on the no-confidence vote.

Mr Lowry said he hasn't decided which way he'll vote but indicated he's likely to back the Government. The Tipperary TD said that he doesn't see how further political instability or an election would assist in resolving the controversy.

Sinn Féin's motion is set to be debated in Leinster House tomorrow afternoon. The Dáil's business committee is meeting at lunchtime today to decide whether the no-confidence vote will be held tomorrow or Thursday.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald claimed: "There is no way that this Government can remain in power. It has completely lost both the confidence of the public and its authority."

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell branded Sinn Féin's motion as "politically irresponsible".

He said the Commission of Inquiry into the alleged smear campaign against Sgt Maurice McCabe must start as a matter of urgency.

"Any political opportunism designed to bolster polling numbers should be treated with complete disdain by the Irish people as it will only serve to delay this crucial process," Mr Farrell said.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said he and his colleague Catherine Martin would await today's statements on the controversy in the Dáil before deciding how they will vote.

He said his party wants to see Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Children Minister Katherine Zappone "clearly outline the facts of this matter, which they have so far failed to do".

Mr Ryan also said the establishment of the inquiry and making sure "it has the resources and capability of doing what has to be done" should be the priority.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said his party would be backing Sinn Féin's motion. "We have no confidence in this Government in any event. We never had," he told RTÉ News.

"It is clearly now gone beyond the point of complete dysfunctionality."

Mr Howlin added: "Nobody wants a general election but politicians seldom do. I can't imagine any outcome of an election being any worse than the current Government."

Independent TD Tommy Broughan said his grouping - Independents4Change (I4C) - will be meeting to discuss the Sinn Féín motion but that his own instinct is to support it.

He criticised the Government's handling of the whistleblower issue, saying: "Every day brings a new complication or revelation."

Meanwhile, his I4C colleagues Mick Wallace and Clare Daly - who have been scathing of the Government's handling of justice matters - are expected to vote with Sinn Féin.

Members of AAA-PBP confirmed that its six TDs will vote against the Government.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said her party will support the Sinn Féin motion for a variety of reasons, arguing that the Government's handling of the issue has been a "fiasco".

How the votes will stack up

The Dáil has 157 TDs, excluding the Ceann Comhairle. Here's how they're expected to line up in the No Confidence vote.

 

Voting with the government - at least 57

Fine Gael: 50

Independent Alliance: 5

Katherine Zappone (Ind) 1

Denis Naughten (Ind) 1

 

Voting against the government - at least 41

Sinn Féin: 23

Labour: 7

Social Democrats: 2

Mick Wallace (Ind) 1

Clare Daly (Ind) 1

Tommy Broughan (Ind) 1

AAA-PBP: 6

 

Abstaining Fianna Fáil: 44

Undecided: At least 5 TDs

Unknown: 10 TDs

Irish Independent

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