Government positive of winning confidence motion ahead of vote

Sinn Féin is pressing for an early general election after the Coalition lost its parliamentary majority
Government positive of winning confidence motion ahead of vote

David Young, PA

Updated: 8.25am

The Government will face a confidence vote later as Sinn Féin presses to secure an early general election.

The Coalition is confident it has the numbers to win this evening’s vote in the Dáil despite losing its voting majority last week.

In response to the Sinn Féin motion, the Government is set to table a motion of confidence in itself in the Dáil later.

That move would supersede the Sinn Féin motion, with the debate and vote held on the Government’s confidence motion instead.

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Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh resigned the party whip last week (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh’s decision to relinquish his party whip last week left the Government with 79 seats in the Dáil – one short of a majority.

However, the Coalition is confident that Mr McHugh and several other TDs outside of the Government will still back the coalition in the vote.

Sinn Féin has heavily criticised the Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis and claims it is also failing on longer term problems, such as Ireland’s chronic housing shortage.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald insists the time has come for a general election and a change of administration.

However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has branded the vote a “cynical exercise”.

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Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald wants an early general election (Brian Lawless/PA)

He has warned an early general election would delay September’s budget, which is set to focus on support measures for people struggling with soaring bills.

“The Irish people do not want a general election,” he told reporters in Dublin on Monday.

“We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, we have a war on the continent of Europe.

“Last week, Sinn Féin were looking for a cost-of-living package and an emergency budget, this week they’re looking for a general election.

“A general election would mean no budgetary package over the next while, and would lead to paralysis.

“In my view it’s just a cynical exercise.”

The Coalition has gradually seen its majority whittled down over the past few months – finally losing it when Mr McHugh resigned the whip over the Government’s controversial plan to provide redress to homeowners in counties affected by defective building blocks.

The former education minister’s home constituency of Donegal is one of the counties worst hit by the defective block scandal, with Mr McHugh believing the redress package is not comprehensive enough.

Defence Forces spending

Despite the Government's apparent confidence, some TD's are not yet decided on how they will vote.

Independent TD Cathal Berry has said his vote in support of the Government will be dependent on “the quality of the proposal” of a pay increase for the lowest ranks in the Defence Forces.

The Government is due to increase spending on the Defence Forces from €1 billion a year to €1.5 billion annually by 2028 in what will be the largest single investment in the military in the history of the State.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Berry, who is a former Army Ranger, said he would wait to see the “quality of the proposal” before he made a decision to support the Government later today.

There were two proposals in relation to take home pay, he said. His decision would be dependent on which proposal was “on the table” for the lowest ranks in the Defence Forces.

What was on the table was “significant”, he said - a 15 per cent increase which was really important.

The Military were the only workers with no access to Workplace Relations Commission, the Labour Court or any form of industrial action, and because of that the Government needed to make a direct intervention, Dr Berry said.

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