Ireland

Ministers back justice minister as pressure mounts over Dublin riots

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee speaks to the media prior to a Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings, Dublin. Picture date: Tuesday November 28, 2023.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee speaks to the media prior to a Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings, Dublin. Picture date: Tuesday November 28, 2023. Minister for Justice Helen McEntee speaks to the media prior to a Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings, Dublin. Picture date: Tuesday November 28, 2023.

Ministers have said they “fully” support Justice Minister Helen McEntee amid calls from the opposition for her resignation following the riots in Dublin last week.

There had been pressure on Ms McEntee to respond to safety issues in the Irish capital before disorder broke out last week, resulting in cars, buses and trams being burned and shops being damaged and looted.

Sinn Fein has said the positions of both Ms McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris are now in question as a result, while both figures have promised a strong response to the riotous scenes.

Speaking on her way into Cabinet on Tuesday, where Ms McEntee was due to update her colleagues about the Dublin riots, she said her focus remained on her job, saying: “That’s always been my priority.”

Finance Minister and Fianna Fail TD Michael McGrath and Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said they backed the Fine Gael justice minister.

Dublin city centre incident
Dublin city centre incident A burned out bus is removed from O’Connell Street in Dublin, in the aftermath of violent scenes in the city centre (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr McGrath said on Tuesday: “I believe she has the full support of her Cabinet colleagues – this is not about personalities.”

He said that “generally” he believes the capital is safe, but the Dublin riots “would rock the confidence of many”.

“What happened last Thursday in Dublin was an affront to our democracy and the entire political system and all of our public bodies need to stand together in unison to take on these thugs.

“And that is why we need to have a very strong response to what has happened and the public want to see there are consequences to the type of violence and disorder that we witnessed in the streets of our capital city last week.”

Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said that he would support Ms McEntee in any no-confidence motion, but said that Dublin is “not safe enough”.

Asked about comments by Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan who said she could not support Ms McEntee in a no-confidence motion, Mr Ryan said: “We’ll be voting support for the Government, we’re in Government.

“In Government you work collectively, you work together.

“So yes I’ll be voting confidence in (the) Minister of Justice, and I think it’s important at this time that actually we deliver that increased safety.

“Both Drew Harris and the Minister of Justice, rather than just a political ‘oh get rid of them, that’ll solve the problem’, (I) don’t think it will.

“We need to get down to work in Government and we will, collectively.”

Speaking on her way into Cabinet on Tuesday, Ms McEntee said there would be a “strong, visible Garda presence” on the ground during the Christmas period, including public order units.

She said she had been speaking to Garda members responded to the incidents on Thursday, and said she wanted to make sure that they have “everything available to them” to respond in the future.

Ms McEntee said she had asked the Policing Authority to look at equipment and resources Gardai might need and to “provide clarity” on the use of force.

“I want them to have the confidence to respond in the way that they deem appropriate,” she said.

“There were serious thugs and criminals who went out to not just cause disruption, but to harm people on Thursday night, and Gardai need to be able to respond with the appropriate force.

“It is important that when responding to these serious types of incidents that Gardai can use the force that they deem appropriate.

“It’s so important that we trust our members to respond in the way that they deem appropriate.

“I think their response on Thursday was excellent.

“I think the way in which they managed the situation was excellent.”