Tonight’s motion is another example of Sinn Féin speaking out of both sides of its mouth.
It criticises the Government – but wastes valuable Dáil time with a charade of a motion which was never going to succeed.
Its only purpose is to cause a pointless drama and an unwelcome distraction when there are so many other serious issues to hand.
As a member of this Government, I am proud to stand on our record of working for the Irish people.
Nobody on these benches is denying there are challenges.
But we are determined to tackle those challenges and build a better future.
Working with the Irish people, we have come through Covid with more than 2.5 million people at work.
We are working to tackle the cost of living because we know people are working hard for themselves and their families, but rising costs are making it more expensive than ever to do the weekly shop, to fill the car and pay the bills.
We are working to build more homes and improve our health services.
In my own brief, I have placed domestic, sexual and gender based violence at the top of my agenda and recently published the Zero Tolerance plan.
It outlines a whole of society approach to create an Ireland where gender based violence is not tolerated.
I have also brought in new laws to:
- criminalise the distribution of intimate images without consent
- introduce pre-trial hearings to make the courts process less stressful for victims
- bring in personal injuries guidelines to tackle the cost of insurance
And I am progressing work on:
- New laws to make stalking and non-fatal strangulation standalone criminal offences
- A sex offenders Bill to strengthen the monitoring arrangements for convicted sex offenders
- A Family Court Bill to put families at the centre of the family justice system
- A Hate Crime Bill with tougher sentences for crimes motivated by hate and prejudice
- A Digital Recording bill to improve the use of CCTV and introduce body worn cameras for An Garda Síochána
- And a new Sale of Alcohol Bill to modernise our antiquated licensing laws
This is a Government that is working.
Our actions are clear – and we will be judged by them.
And we can only judge Sinn Féin by theirs.
As Minister for Justice, I take my responsibilities towards the security and safety of our State and our people very seriously.
But just weeks ago – once again – Sinn Féin failed to support the renewal of the Offences Against the State Acts and the Special Criminal Court.
It was another reminder that Sinn Féin cannot be trusted to protect national security and the institutions of the State.
And it told us that they are willing to ignore clear security advice from An Garda Síochána and the Garda Commissioner.
It is their unambiguous view – which I put on the record of this House – that the Offences Against the State Acts and the Special Criminal Court are vital in the continued fight and terrorism and organised crime.
But Sinn Féin ignores those views.
What other advice from the Garda Commissioner would they ignore if they were in office?
What other security and intelligence briefings would they disregard?
The truth is – they cannot be trusted to protect our people and our State.
We in Government will continue our work on behalf of the Irish people.
We will not be deterred from doing so, and I have no doubt that we will have the support of the House tonight.