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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Alamy Stock Photo Justice Minister Helen McEntee.
Vote of No Confidence

Justice Minister Helen McEntee faces no confidence motion and committee grilling next week

Sinn Féin said it is tabling the no confidence motion as the minister refuses to acknowledge political failings.

LAST UPDATE | 16 hours ago

JUSTICE MINISTER HELEN McEntee is to face a no confidence motion and a committee grilling next week. 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald announced today that her party has tabled a no confidence motion in the minister in the wake of last week’s rioting in Dublin.

“We cannot have a justice minister who refuses to acknowledge the political failures that allowed our communities to become unsafe,” she said.

“Sinn Féin has been forced to put down a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Justice because this government is not listening.”

When asked today if he was confident that the Government would win the vote, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said he was.

“I think this is further illustration and confirms that the only response one can expect from Sinn Féin in the face of any challenge to society is to exploit the crisis as opposed to come forward with proposals or solutions to the particular crisis,” he said.

He also criticsed Sinn Féin’s response as “irresponsible”, stating that the gardaí, Dublin businesses and public transport were attacked last week. 

“When we have attacks on the institutions of the State, everybody should rally to focus on the building and strengthening the institutions of the State. Come forward, yes, with proposals and solutions as to how to do that. But one shouldn’t be seeking to gain electoral or political advantage, in my view, on the basis of such an event that we experienced last week. 

“I think it shows up, in my view, the irresponsible approach that Sinn Féin has taken,” said Martin.

Justice Committee appearance 

McEntee is due to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice to discuss policing matters, following on from Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’ appearance this week.

The minister is likely to face tough questions about enough was done to prevent the scenes of violence in Dublin city centre last week.

Speaking to reporters today, McDonald said that both the Justice Minister and Government are “not listening” to the public, and that everyone could see the “mob violence” coming.

“Let me be clear, I have full confidence in gardaí and the garda on the beat but I have zero confidence in the Justice Minister Helen Mcentee,” she said.

“People don’t feel safe in Dublin and beyond”, said the Sinn Féin leader.

“We are moving a no confidence motion in her because we have no confidence in how this city is being policed, and we have no confidence that there is a responsible, leaderly person in charge and we need to change that,” she concluded.

McDonald said it’s clear that the riots and violent public disorder “could have been foreseen, should have been foreseen”. 

She said the scenes last Thursday night “could have been prevented” and contained, had earlier action been taken in the day.

For a very long time now, people have felt unsafe on the streets of Dublin’s inner city, she said, stating that she knows this is a reality also in other counties across the country.

McDonald said this motion “is about what happened a week ago, in the aftermath of vicious stabbings of young children” and creche carer Leann Flynn Keogh and the riots that subsequently transpired.

“Control was lost in the city centre,” she said, telling the media that she has grown up in Dublin city and “never ever seen the like of that”.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams or nightmares that you would see scenes like that,” she added. 

McDonald said if there are members of Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and Independents who believe that what happened last Thursday “can be explained away” and who believe the Minister for Justice has done a good job, “they’re going to have to go and face their communities and their constituencies and make that point”.

“I think they will find themselves in grave difficulty,” she added. 

The motion of no confidence comes after repeated calls from opposition politicians for McEntee to resign over her handling of the riots and looting that took place last week, after the horrific stabbing of three school children and a creche worker. 

Sinn Féin leadership figures have said that both McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris should leave their posts over “abject failures” in the policing operation that night, and the state of An Garda Síochana in general. 

Both Harris and McEntee have said publicly that they will not be resigning, with McEntee accusing Sinn Féin of political grandstanding during a time of tragedy.  

Separate to her own committee appearance next week, companies Meta, TikTok and Google are to appear before the Oireachtas Media Committee to discuss the issue of online safety, online disinformation and media literacy. 

It comes as gardaí investigating the riots have been examining social media posts as part of efforts to trace some of those involved. 

McEntee said this week that she plans to meet with social media platform X, formerly Twitter, over the platform’s inaction on taking down certain posts partially “fuelled” public disorder in Dublin last Thursday.

With reporting by Jane Matthews and Eimer McAuley