No confidence vote would delay ‘urgent’ housing, McGrath says

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath claims Labour Party motion is ‘playing politics’ when stability needed

A senior Government Minister has warned that if the Labour Party motion of no confidence was passed by the Dáil, it would lead to an immediate General Election and a period of instability at a time when urgent action is required on housing.

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said he was confident the Government will have more than sufficient support when the vote is taken in the Dáil on Wednesday.

Speaking as he arrived in Government Buildings for the weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr McGrath accused both Labour and Sinn Féin – which is tabling a separate motion on elections – of playing politics games.

“Were the Labour Party motion to be passed by the Dáil Éireann we would have a general election which would take place in a month’s time or so. And then that would be followed by a further period of weeks to months, whereby the process of putting together a new Government would take place,” he said.


“That would come at a time when we need action in relation to housing and that is what the Government is focused on: putting in place the practical solutions for people who have been served with a termination notice in respect of their tenancy.

“This motion by the Labour Party is all about politics. It’s not about bringing forward solutions. It’s about the different Opposition parties competing with each other for airtime and for space in the media, and we will deal with it in a professional manner.”

Mr McGrath said there had been a number of votes in the past year where it was predicted the Government would survive by a tight margin. He said that had never been the case.

“We are satisfied that even beyond the direct numbers that we have within the Government, there are other members of the House who are reasonably minded, who are moderate in their views, who want a stable Government to see the benefits of stable Government.”

He continued: “What we need at this time is a strong and stable Government that gets on with its business and deals with the affairs of the Nation and puts the people first and that’s what we’re going to be doing rather than engaging in any political games.”

Mr McGrath also responded to questions about a report from the Land Development Agency that suggests that up to 60,000 affordable homes can be built on State-owned land in the medium term. The report is being discussed by the Cabinet today.

“We have been examining what role all of the different public bodies and State agencies can play in making land available and developing houses and apartments around the country.”

He said the issue was a complex one and some sites were in different stages of preparation.

The Minister is himself bringing a memo to Cabinet proposing that Ireland puts in a bid to have a new EU anti-money laundering agency headquartered in Ireland. He said the competition would be intense with nine EU States or more vying for the contract.

“Ireland has a very strong base for the international financial services sector in particular, and I think winning this authority for Ireland would greatly enhance our reputation in that regard. The competition will be intense so I’m under no illusions about the scale of the challenge.

“But I think Ireland has to be on the pitch. And we have to be making the case for Ireland to be the destination for this new EU authority. So there will be a significant amount of lobbying over the months ahead by myself and by Government colleagues, by other State agencies and public bodies as well. But today I’m seeking Government approval from Ireland to formally declare an interest in becoming a host country.”

He said that the initial projection for staffing would be around 250 but that it would grow to 500 over time.

“The jobs impact is significant. But I think what is more significant is the enhancement of our reputation as a centre not just for international financial services, but as a centre for strong regulation and enforcement.”

Mr McGrath would not be drawn on the interaction between the Tánaiste and representatives of the Women of Honour group, representing female Defence Forces’ personnel who were subjected to bullying, abuse and assault during their army careers.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the discussion and the decision of the Government. The Tánaiste [Micheál Martin] has handled this issue with great care and sensitivity and he will report to the Cabinet on the issue.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times