A Sinn Fein motion of no-confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee is a “political stunt”, a Government minister has said.
Minister of State for public health and wellbeing Hildegarde Naughton said the Government was focused on assisting the Garda so that violent scenes which erupted in Dublin recently are never repeated.
Tens of millions of euro worth of damage was caused to public infrastructure after disorder in the Irish capital that saw buses, trams and Garda cars on O’Connell Street set on fire and shops on looted.
The rioting followed a knife attack near a school in which three children and a care assistant were injured.
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said a lack of Garda members and government inaction had resulted in people feeling less safe in the city, as well as in other parts of the country.
She announced the motion of no-confidence in Ms McEntee, to be debated in the Dail on Tuesday, claiming there needed to be accountability for the “catastrophic failure” to keep people safe.
Fine Gael minister Ms Naughton told RTE there was “absolute confidence” in the Government in Ms McEntee.
She said that Sinn Fein had a “murky relationship” with law and order.
She added: “Fine Gael has no problem debating issues of law and order with Sinn Fein.”
“What Minister McEntee is focused on and what government is focused on is addressing those issues and making sure that the gardai are supported, these are the guardians of our state and we need to make sure they are ready for events like this in the future.
“That is our focus, not political stunts.”
Ms Naughton added: “What Sinn Fein are doing is politicising a very serious event that happened in our capital city last Thursday week.
“What we all should be doing is supporting An Garda Siochana, not turning this into a political stunt.
“What we need to be doing as a political body is ensuring we are concerted here in relation to addressing further legislation that may be needed, not wasting Dail time in relation to motions that are really not helpful.”
Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny defended the posting online by Mrs McDonald of a photo depicting a person sitting on steps that she claimed was near the scene of the knife attack.
He said: “The people in that area have for years had situations where they have had huge under-investment in policing, in social services, in community services and it has resulted in an area which is lawless, they never see a gard.
“After the vicious attack and the huge spotlight that was on it for a week, less than a week later it is back to this abnormal situation.
“The point that Mary Lou McDonald was making was we have to change, there has to be a step change in how this is looked after.”
Labour Party TD Aodhan O’Riordan said he could not have confidence in how the Government had handled the situation.
He said:”On the day after the events I was heartbroken, we were all heartbroken.
“We didn’t immediately reach for politics, other members of the opposition did, talking about the Garda Commissioner needs to resign, the minister needs to resign.
“We have been focusing on issues of Garda resources, numbers, but also on tackling the far right.
“I am not impressed by Fine Gael’s rhetoric in the last couple of days, which is predictable
“I am also not impressed by the Sinn Fein antics during the week in terms of that photograph of the vulnerable person.
“However, we can’t have confidence in how the Government have handled the situation, we almost had industrial from the gardai in October, we had barristers having a day of strike action and any gard that you speak to speaks of the lack of morale.”