Varadkar predicts comfortable win for Government on confidence motion

Unrest in Green Party over suspension of Neasa Hourigan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Government will defeat next week’s no-confidence motion “by a significant margin” with the help of what he called “sensible, reasonable Independents”. Dismissing the motion as “political theatre”, Mr Varadkar said they now occur routinely “every two or three months”.

He insisted no special constituency deals were done with Independents to secure their support for the Government in Wednesday night’s vote on the ending of the eviction ban. However, he said there was “ongoing engagement with the Independents about constituency issues but no formal agreements in that sense”.

Mr Varadkar was speaking on his way into a two-day summit of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

The Taoiseach said the Government agreed with the Independents’ amendments because they “included a number of good suggestions”. These included changes to the operation of the Fair Deal nursing home scheme, the Croí Cónaithe vacancy and dereliction scheme, the rent-a-room scheme and measures to support landlords and renters.


Asked if there were any special constituency deals, he said “certainly not in relation to the vote yesterday”. However, he said the support of the Independents had helped to give the Government an “even more secure majority” and there were ongoing contacts with them.

He said that the motion of no confidence in the Government next week “will be defeated, it will be defeated by a significant margin, it is largely political theatre”.

Mr Varadkar said that he had not held any discussions with the Independents about the motion, but said that the Government would speak to “like-minded Independents who don’t want an election next week or in three weeks’ time”.

“They’re sensible, reasonable Independents and we will talk to them about issues they might have.”

However, Sinn Féin condemned the Independent TDs who supported the Government, saying they had “got their 30 pieces of silver” but have “turned their backs” on renters.

Meanwhile Several Green Party councillors criticised the decision to suspend TD Neasa Hourigan from the parliamentary party for 15 months for voting with the Opposition on the motion. The sanction will also see Ms Hourigan lose her Oireachtas committee positions.

Cork-based Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said he was “gravely disappointed at the decision” to sanction Ms Hourigan. He said the decision was “taken without due notice, while Neasa was chairing an Oireachtas committee and so (was) unable to be at the meeting”.

Fingal-based councillor Karen Power said: “Let’s not forget a key selling point for entering government was to be there, at the table, to proactively criticise from within, when government policy differed from our own. Fast forward, criticise and suffer the disproportionate consequences.”

Ms Power also said the parliamentary party “should be ashamed” at such a “disproportionate and shockingly harsh punishment”.

Former TD Dan Boyle, now a Cork councillor, said he felt the suspension was too long and that Ms Hourigan should be allowed to retain her committee memberships. “I hope a mechanism to appeal these elements exists,” he said on Twitter.

East Cork Green Party councillor Liam Quaide said “our parliamentary party has got its values tragically askew”.

Wicklow councillor Lourda Scott said it was a “desperately poor decision”, while former lord mayor Hazel Chu said on Twitter that it was a “deeply disappointing and excessively harsh decision”.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times