Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed on Friday that Fianna Fáil TDs who failed to give a vote of confidence to Foreign Minister Simon Coveney would face six months’ suspension from the parliamentary party.
Speaking at the Fianna Fáil think-tank in Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, Mr Martin said the automatic sanction would apply to any TD that did not support the Government in the Dáil’s no-confidence vote for Mr Coveney, which is expected to return next week.
Many Fianna Fáil TDs are dissatisfied with the prospect of voting on the confidence in Mr Coveney, but most agree they will have to support the Government.
However, Kilkenny TD John McGuinness, who has been persistently critical of Mr Martin’s leadership, said on Friday he had not decided how to vote.
The no-confidence motion promised to Mr. Coveney by Sinn Féin means that the Dáil will immediately return to a hostile and partisan atmosphere next week. The latest motion of no confidence in Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last year saw bitter and personal exchanges of views, particularly between the Fine Gael and Sinn Féin MPs.
The Labor Party said it would support a motion of no confidence in Mr Coveney if a proposal were made in the Dáil, as the Social Democrats did.
A Green spokesperson said all TDs would be expected to vote in favor of the Government.
Controversy over the appointment of Katherine Zappone to the role of a UN special envoy by Mr Coveney was a recurring theme at Fianna Fáil’s meeting, with a number of TDs objecting to what the Taoiseach perceived as belittling the issue.
Speaking to the press, Mr Martin argued that Mr Coveney’s forced resignation would have ramifications for membership in the UN Security Council in a critical month when Ireland assumed the Presidency of the State.
When asked if this meant that Mr Coveney was “too big to fail”, Mr Martin said that was not the case, but added: “A lot of work has been done. [to securing a place on the UN Security Council]. He is an experienced foreign minister.”
said: “The consequences [of Mr Coveney’s resignation] In important matters like Afghanistan, we lose an experienced person when needed right now.”
Martin has repeatedly criticized Sinn Féin’s threat of the motion as a “classic opposition manoeuvre” and said the party is no stranger to nepotism. He also claimed that the debate was blown up disproportionately.