Sinn Féin’s motion of no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee is not “responsible politics”, Fine Gael has said.
Following last week’s riots, the main opposition party accused Minister McEntee of “not listening” to Dubliners and that people no longer feel safe in the capital.
Speaking to The Hard Shoulder, Minister of State Neale Richmond said he has “100% confidence” in his colleague and condemned Sinn Féin’s behaviour since the riots.
“What do we see in terms of responsible politics from the lead opposition?” he said.
“The very next day we have the leader of Sinn Féin, yards away from an active crime scene, calling for the resignation of the Garda Commissioner.
“Then over the weekend, we see [Sinn Féin TD] Louise O’Reilly demanding the Taoiseach ‘take Helen McEntee out’.
“Then we see, earlier this week, Mary Lou McDonald posting and tweeting a really worrying picture of a vulnerable person and then Louise O’Reilly brandishes that in the Dáil.
“Is that constructive politics?”
Minister Richmond said it would be preferable if the opposition focused on working with the Government to cut crime.
“We’ve seen legislative change, we’ve seen organisational change, we’ve seen massive funding impact to support the role of An Garda Síochána,” he said.
“On Wednesday, we were able to pass legislation on facial recognition in 10 minutes that the opposition had been dragging out for months and months on end.
“It’s amazing what we can do when we work together.”
'Many issues over the past number of years'
Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Pa Daly said the opposition had “no choice” to bring forward the no confidence motion.
“People in communities need to feel safe,” he said.
“There have been many issues over the past number of years in relation to community safety in relation to Garda presence.
“Not just in Dublin, but around the country in many other towns and cities.”
Deputy Daly pointed to recruitment and retention issues in the Gardaí and said the Government need to take responsibility for their record.
“Remember, Fine Gael have been in charge of the Justice ministry for the past 13 years,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s a single person really outside Fine Gael who believes that enough has been done to maintain or to improve the presence of Gardaí on our streets.”
The motion of no confidence in Minister McEntee will be debated on Tuesday.
Main image: The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee outside Government Buildings, 17-12-2020. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews