Helen's Christmas confidence – Justice Minister retains her post

Helen's Christmas confidence – Justice Minister retains her post

Ireland's Justice Minister spoke exclusively to PETER KELLY inside Dáil Éireann during moves to expel her from office

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (image by Peter Kelly)

Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has spoken defiantly after surviving a vote of 'No Confidence' in Dáil Éireann.

TDs in Ireland's parliament in Dublin voted 83 to 63 against the motion tabled by Sinn Fein which would have led to the 37-year old Minister's resignation from the coalition government.

The Irish state is still reeling from the aftermath of the Dublin rioting on November 23. Gardaí struggled to contain looting, the burning of Garda vehicles, buses, a Luas tram and several buildings. The disorder followed stabbings of children and their carer in the city centre hours earlier.

The civil unrest was finally brought under control with Public Order Units with riot shields deployed to the city centre. The cost of repairs could run into tens of millions of euro.

In Dáil Éireann, Sinn Féin tabled a 'Motion of No Confidence' in Minister McEntee, and described Dublin as having a "general feeling of lawlessness" with the coalition government "skirting around the problem" and "completely abandoning these communities". Party leader Mary Lou McDonald, a TD for inner city Dublin said: "I have full confidence in An Garda Síochána. I have zero confidence in the Minister for Justice."

Sinn Féin was joined in criticism of the government by Social Democrat and Irish Labour Party fellow legislators from the opposition benches.

However, Helen McEntee hit back. She later told The Irish Post that the capital city is not a no-go area. "Dublin is a city of over a million and we have a safe city" she insisted. "As Minister for Justice I am doing a lot of work with those businesses and communities to make sure that people are safe and that they feel safe."

The Meath TD is steadfastly supporting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, and police who faced down rioters. "It was obviously a really quickly evolving situation," she said. "We've seen these types of things go on into the next day and sometimes multiple days in other jurisdictions. In Dublin, gardaí in a very short space of time brought what could have been an even more disastrous situation under control in a number of hours."

The Minister added: "It was the largest ever mobilisation of Garda than ever before with up to 250 Members out dealing with one single incident."

Minister McEntee dismissed the motion as a "stunt" and said that the strength of support from front bench colleagues shows that the Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition remains united.

"I'm committed, focused, have moved on, and I'm already bringing important Memos to Cabinet to resolve our issues," she said.

Minister McEntee was keen to reassure the Irish in Britain that the capital is safe. "I encourage people: if you haven't been here before, take a trip home, come visit us. And if you have, I reassure you that I am doing everything to make sure people are safe over the Christmas period, into the New Year and far beyond."

Peter Kelly