Sunday 21 April 2019

Fianna Fail leader rules out general election in 2019

Micheal Martin said it would have been irresponsible if a general election had been called ahead of Brexit.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin discussing Brexit in Brussels on Thursday (Michelle Devane/PA)
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin discussing Brexit in Brussels on Thursday (Michelle Devane/PA)

By Cate McCurry and Michelle Devane, Press Association

The leader of Ireland’s main opposition party has said he will continue to prop up the government for the rest of the year.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin ruled out calling for a general election in 2019.

Mr Martin said it would have been “reckless” and “irresponsible” if a general election had been called in the first few months, adding that Fianna Fail has given the Irish government space “without having to look over their shoulder”.

I made it clear before Christmas that Brexit, and the instability around Brexit, made it, in my view, essential to avoid a general election. Micheal Martin

Last year Fianna Fail re-entered their confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael to ensure the continuation of the minority government ahead of Brexit.

Mr Martin said the Irish opposition had taken an approach, which was unusual due to the adversarial nature of politics, to “put the country first to avoid a general election” in Ireland in the midst of Brexit.

He said his decision had been “proven right” and that Fianna Fail would continue with the confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael throughout 2019.

Speaking in Brussels, he said: “I made it clear before Christmas that Brexit, and the instability around Brexit, made it, in my view, essential to avoid a general election.

“It’s important to continue with the confidence and supply and to give 2019, to give the year if you like, to facilitate all of that. I think I’ve been proven right.”

Turning to Brexit, Mr Martin said he believed it would be “very difficult” for Prime Minister Theresa May to get her deal through but added that he would not rule it out.

“There’s a very clear choice facing Brexiteers in particular that on the one hand they may say that the ultras will go for the no-deal scenario but on the other hand I don’t think a no-deal will be tolerated by the remainder of the Parliament,” he said.

Mr Martin said MPs had a choice whether they want “a Brexit of some sort” or the potential of no Brexit because he said there was a likelihood that an extension could be a long one.

Press Association

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