Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald is currently resisting growing calls to quit over a controversy involving a bid to discredit a Garda whistleblower and Sinn Fein has tabled a motion of no confidence in her.
The motion questions the deputy prime minister’s handling of a Garda whistleblower controversy when she was minister for justice and puts the delicate supply deal keeping the Fine Gael-led administration afloat in doubt.
And the furore focuses on her knowledge of a key email about the legal strategy deployed against garda Maurice McCabe has now led Fianna Fail – the opposition party keeping the government in power through an historic parliamentary arrangement – to threaten to vote against Ms Fitzgerald in the confidence vote due to take place next Wednesday.
Fianna Fail have taken sides with Sinn Fein and even said it could pursue its own no confidence motion.
If the Irish are forced to go to the polls in a snap election this would have vast ramifications and throw the British Government’s Brexit talks with the European Union into uncertainty.
Ireland is currently a major stumbling block between the two sides with questions of the future of the border between the north and south.
Earlier this month Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a breakthrough in the talks which appear to be in deadlock was “likely” which appeared to go against the thinking inside the EU which indicated in a paper that the only way to avoid a hard border in Ireland was for Northern Ireland to remain inside, or as close as possible to, the bloc as part of the customs union and the single market.
But all that could be thrown into doubt should a new administration be elected to power.
If the Tanaiste remains in post next week and Fianna Fail follows through with its threat, its confidence and supply deal with Fine Gael would have been breached and a Christmas general election would be on the cards.
Fianna Fail’s Jim O’Callaghan said his party leader Micheal Martin had spoken to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday night to tell him he did not have confidence in the Tanaiste.
He said: ”I think it’s a virtual certainty there will be a vote next week as to whether Dail Eireann has confidence in the Tanaiste – we do not have confidence in the Tanaiste and we won’t be voting confidence in her.”
Urging the Tanaiste to quit, Mr O’Callaghan told RTE the matter was the “most serious” challenge facing the 18-month old deal.
He said no one wanted a general election but acknowledged one would take place if the controversy was not resolved.
Senior Fine Gael figures were continuing to back party colleague Ms Fitzgerald on Thursday night – setting the scene for a major political stand-off in the coming days.
Earlier in the Irish parliament, Ms Fitzgerald rejected allegations she was privy to the conspiracy aimed at discrediting Mr McCabe.
Ms Fitzgerald told TDs: “I am trying to provide answers. I am not trying to hide anything. I was not part of any conspiracy to undermine Sergeant McCabe. Quite the contrary.”
This week a Government email emerged indicating the Tanaiste was told in 2015 about the tactics being used by Garda lawyers at an inquiry examining allegations of Garda malpractice.
The note, written by the assistant secretary of the Department of Justice, alerted Ms Fitzgerald, then justice minister, that “a serious criminal complaint” which had always been denied by Sgt McCabe, was raised at the commission.
The email was sent to a number of people including the Tanaiste.
Last year it emerged the legal team appointed by the former Garda commissioner was instructed to question Sgt McCabe’s motivation and credibility at the O’Higgins Commission, which was set up in February 2015 to examine allegations of Garda malpractice.
The strategy pursued against Sgt McCabe is one of a number of issues being examined by an ongoing tribunal chaired by Mr Justice Peter Charleton.
Source : EXPRESS