Party whip to be applied for Coveney no-confidence vote, says Taoiseach

ireland
Party Whip To Be Applied For Coveney No-Confidence Vote, Says Taoiseach
Micheál Martin warned that any of his party’s TDs who do not vote against a no-confidence motion in the Minister for Foreign Affairs will face suspension.
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Dominic McGrath, PA

Any Fianna Fáil TD who fails to vote against a no-confidence motion in Simon Coveney will face suspension, the Taoiseach has warned.

Micheál Martin, speaking on the final day of his party’s think-in in Co Cavan, said he expects all TDs to oppose a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the Minister for Foreign Affairs, adding he will be applying the party whip.

He confirmed TDs abstaining on the vote will also face consequences.

“As a party, our focus is on the issues that matter to the people of Ireland,” he said.

“For those issues, you need a Government.”

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy confirmed on Friday that the party will table a motion of no confidence, saying the appointment of Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy amounted to “blatant cronyism”.

He said the party took the decision because the Taoiseach did not sanction his Cabinet colleague over the crisis.

Mr Martin once again said that Mr Coveney had apologised and that, while mistakes had been made, lessons have also been learned and the Minister does not need to resign.

He branded Sinn Féin’s action a “classic opposition manoeuvre”.

“Let’s not forget – this was the appointment of a part-time envoy that didn’t go ahead. Are we seriously suggesting that that’s the new threshold?” he said.

He also rejected suggestions that Mr Coveney is “too big to fail”.

There is speculation that some Fianna Fáil TDs could decide to vote with the opposition and back Sinn Féin’s motion.

While the Government is likely to receive the support of several Independent TDs in the no-confidence vote, it is understood that not every one has yet made a decision.

Losing Simon Coveney from the Government could jeopardise Ireland’s current chairmanship of the UN Security Council, the Taoiseach said (Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Mr Martin also suggested that losing Mr Coveney from the Government could jeopardise Ireland’s current chairmanship of the UN Security Council.

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Ireland has taken on the role of president of the council for September, and this week Mr Coveney chaired a meeting on Afghanistan.

“A lot of work has gone into that. He’s an experienced foreign minister,” Mr Martin said.

“The consequences would be that we’d lose a person of experience right now when it’s needed on significant issues like Afghanistan and other issues,” he told reporters.

He said the Zappone controversy has been frustrating for his party.

“We would much prefer if this hadn’t happened and there are lessons to be learned from it.

“The party wants things to work well. But we have to keep a sense of balance.”

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