Martin spurns idea of calling a snap election
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin ruled out a snap general election on the basis of what he said was "a very positive" local government and European Parliament election for his party.
Mr Martin stressed that local government election results were encouraging for Fianna Fail - and sent an emphatic message to critics of Fianna Fail and his party leadership as Fine Gael's 10pc opinion poll lead "evaporated at the ballot box".
Exit polls indicated his party had matched Fine Gael at 23pc support. But he said it had no bearing on the confidence and supply agreement with the Government or the timing of any general election.
"That is not the context in which I look at the local elections," he said.
"A lot of the parties privately will admit it but they won't say it publicly. I think the Greens are the only ones who will say it and agree that we shouldn't call an election [because of Brexit] before Christmas and Eamon Ryan said that to me but the others were pretending that they wanted one but we would not."
However, Mr Martin slated the Government's handling of the plebiscite on directly elected mayors in Cork, Waterford and Limerick as "absolutely shambolic."
Early tallies indicated the plebiscite will be rejected in Cork. He said it was shaping up to be a good election for Fianna Fail, with the party poised to consolidate gains on councils nationwide - and remain in the fight for three European Parliament berths in Dublin and Ireland South.
In Cork City Council, Fianna Fail are poised to hold all 10 seats on the 31 seat council.
Mr Martin said FF would be there or thereabouts for next general election. "But it is a fragmented electoral system right now. We are in a different order than the last decade in politics.
"But you never use local elections as a barometer for a general election - I'm around long enough and I'm an experienced politician - locals are different, people vote different at locals, they definitely vote differently in European (elections).
"We are not only still standing, we are making gains, we are still bringing people in but it is a challenging environment electorally. It is hard work - to be fair to all our candidates, they put in very hard work and a lot of their background teams have.
"We are positive about the future. It is a very fragmented situation right now - I want to pay tribute to the Green Party. They did well. Eamon Ryan and myself, we came in after the 2011 General Election and we have ploughed a lonely furrow at times. He is having his day today and I pay tribute to him for his leadership in that regard."
Mr Martin said the final results were going to be fascinating. "There have been some big stories in this election. For two years we have watched opinion polls telling us that Fine Gael were ten clear points ahead of Fianna Fail. That has evaporated - I don't know where the Sinn Fein vote is but they face challenges in some areas in terms of seats.
"Everybody is impacted - we seem to be holding our own in the local elections but it is a cautionary tale because there is a lot of counts to go."