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FF rejects Varadkar's first turn as rotating Taoiseach



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A group of Fianna Fáil TDs has rejected suggestions by Fine Gael politicians that Leo Varadkar should get the first stint as Taoiseach in a coalition deal involving the two parties.

Fine Gael TDs and senators, including ministers, are pushing for Mr Varadkar go first in any rotating Taoiseach agreement, some arguing he should stay in place to lead the country through the coronavirus crisis.

But Fianna Fáil TDs have insisted party leader Micheál Martin should take the job from the start of any new coalition and that Mr Varadkar getting the first stint in office would not be approved by Fianna Fáil's membership.

Senior TD Marc MacSharry said he believes his party would reject a deal where Mr Martin was not Taoiseach first and Tipperary's Jackie Cahill said the same.

Mr MacSharry said Fianna Fáil is the largest party in the Dáil and if there is to be a rotating Taoiseach "these matters are decided upon by the numeracy of seats, not the number of appearances on 'The Late Late Show'."

Limerick City TD Willie O'Dea also pointed to Fianna Fáil being the largest party.

"I don't see any logic to Leo Varadkar going first," he said.

Laois-Offaly TD Seán Fleming said it would be "more difficult" for a coalition deal to pass Fianna Fáil's membership if Mr Varadkar is Taoiseach first.

Kildare North TD James Lawless said he would expect Mr Martin to lead the government at the start.

"If it's to be a change government it needs to change from the top down," he said.

Neither Mr Martin nor Mr Varadkar would be drawn on the issue in separate interviews on Newstalk radio. Government formation talks continued last night with a meeting between deputy leaders Tánaiste Simon Coveney of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary and Catherine Martin of the Green Party.

Irish Independent