Sinn Féin Leader calls on Taoiseach to sack Justice Minister

Varadkar warns against calling for hasty resignations

by Rose Barrett
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Sinn Féin Leader MaryLou McDonald pulled no punches in the Dáil today as she called on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to sack Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee.

The pressure has been focused on Minister McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris as the full fallout of last week’s riots is assessed. 

Deputy McDonald was relentless in the Dáil when she stated: “The government isn’t listening. We need safe communities, safe towns and cities for all. Nothing less will do. I have confidence – full confidence in an Garda Síochána – I have zero confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice!”

A debate has raged on the need to immediately increase Garda resources and training, claiming last week’s shocking riots were unprecedented but that Dubin City is still rife with “feral youth” and wandering gangs. 

Vincent Jennings, Chief Executive Officer at Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) stated the response to such outbursts of violence and ongoing issues in the city must be changed. Speaking on RTÉ on Tuesday last, he said there must be a quicker turnaround response to distress calls made.   

“We need changes made in the way Gardaí respond. There have been ongoing calls made regularly to the force with smaller incidents over the past two years,” he said. He noted there are groups of “feral youth” wandering the city centre, causing abuse and havoc to business owners. One call from an incident on O’Connell Street was attended to almost two hours later.  “When asked why there was such a delay, a Garda replied: ‘Take it up with Drew Harris’. We’ve recommended looking at the system used in Belfast which involves an exchange of information including photos,” said Mr Jennings.

The debate continues on introducing Facial Recognition Technology (FRT) and to overcome GDR issues in identifying the looters and thugs who caused the turmoil last week.

Following a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Daithí de Róiste (FF) stated proper training and greater supports for members of the force must be implemented against future attacks. Cllr Mannix Flynn (Ind) called on the Garda Commissioner to apologise to the people of Dublin while Cllr Daithí Doolan (SF) said “The failure is not with rank-and-file Gardaí but lies with the Garda Commissioner who has ignored the repeated threat of far-right extremists.” 

In response to Deputy McDonald’s onslaught on Minister McEntee, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned against calling on resignations as the perpetrators of last week’s mayhem could  “see it as a victory and it may even embolden them”.

Mr Varadkar warned that removing Ministers or high-ranking persons in roles such as An Garda Commissioner, “should not be taken lightly”.

“Here in this chamber, we’ve seen Justice Ministers have their reputations destroyed, with the Chamber and Opposition acting as judge, jury and executioner.” In time, he noted the sitting Justice Minister was vindicated. 

Antoinette Cunningham, Gen Sec Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors said Gardaí members secured to boost numbers on patrol in Dublin are offered a paltry allowance of €107 per night, to cover accommodation and food following a standard 12-hour shift. Ms Cunningham noted that €107 wouldn’t even achieve accommodation in the city, and was considerably less than what was offered to fellow workers in the civil service!  

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