By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has welcomed the prospect of a no-confidence vote in his Government, saying it gives a chance to show that “this has been a competent, good government”.
Sinn Féin is considering tabling a motion of no confidence in the Dáil next week, after the three-party coalition lost its majority following a vote on legislation on Wednesday evening.
Former minister for education Joe McHugh voted against the Government’s mica redress scheme bill, which aims to compensate homeowners in four counties affected by defective building blocks.
Fine Gael Donegal TD Mr McHugh told the Dail: “My gut is telling me that this scheme is falling short for too many people, and particularly for constituents in my own county.”
Mr McHugh, who formerly served as a chief whip, subsequently resigned the whip in the wake of his dissenting vote – reducing the Government’s support to one short of a majority of 80.
The main Opposition party Sinn Féin is due to meet on Friday morning to decide if it will table the motion.
Mary Lou McDonald told reporters in Dublin that "the appetite for change" evident during the last general election has not gone away.
“People have now run out patience, if they had any to begin with, with this Government. They [the Government] no longer have a majority. I have no doubt that they believe they could limp on,” she said.
“The sooner we have a change, the better, but on the issue of the confidence motion, we are considering that matter and will make a final call on it.”
Asked if she believes she will win, given some Independent TDs vote with the Government, Ms McDonald said the party will “weigh that up”.
“What we know without fear of contradiction is that in the area of housing, for example, things have gone from bad worse.
“Not alone has this Government improved matters, as a matter things are considerably worse now than they were two years ago for lots and lots of people, for renters, for people who may wish to buy their own home and certainly we now have record levels of homelessness.
“We go into the Dáil week in and week out and we listen to the same mantra, and the same delusion on behalf of the Government. That cannot continue because people suffer in very real and measurable ways.”
Speaking to reporters from Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Martin said that he welcomed the prospect of a no-confidence motion.
“It’s not unexpected that towards the end of the last week of this parliamentary session that they would put down a motion – opposition parties tend to do that from time to time,” he said.
“We have a good working majority, we welcome the opportunity that they present to us, to outline the fact that this has been a competent, good government.
“Look at how we’ve come through Covid-19, not just in terms of having one of the better performances globally in respect of mortality, in respect of our resilience, the way we underpinned the economy throughout Covid, such that it bounced back to an unprecedented level.”
The Taoiseach also referenced the Government’s “clear” response to the war in Ukraine and climate change policy as evidence of his government’s effectiveness.
“We have a lot to say in terms of policy: education, health and of course housing, where the Housing for All represents the most comprehensive suite of policies that have been advanced by any political party.”
When asked whether he’d be worried about facing into an election given recent polling numbers, Mr Martin said “no, not at all”.
Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no confidence in Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in September 2021 over the appointment of former minister Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy.
Some 92 TDs voted in favour of Mr Coveney, including 12 independents, while 59 voted against him.