Tuesday 21 January 2020

'FG won't wind down Dáil as nobody wants a paralysed Government' - party chair

Martin Heydon Photo: Tom Burke
Martin Heydon Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon has emphasised it will not "agree an orderly wind-down" of the Dáil and Government.

"This Government will govern until the day it cannot. The country does not need a paralysed Government in wind-down," Mr Heydon told the Irish Independent.

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will meet within days to try to agree the timing of the general election.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have spent the Christmas break publicly baiting one another on the issue. However, sources on both sides have suggested a way can be found to agree on an election after Easter Sunday, which falls on April 12, but the prospects of a Government collapse forcing an election as early as next month is not ruled out.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

Mr Varadkar fears that Fianna Fáil moves to delay beyond Easter risk being a device to keep the minority Coalition as "a lame duck" collecting blame for problems such as housing and health.

Further details of Mr Varadkar's letter to Mr Martin just before Christmas emerged yesterday.

It proposes agreement between the parties on adjustments to the local property tax and also a vigorous schedule of legislation and other matters to create an active period between the Dáil's return next week and the Easter break starting on April 9.

"Governments and the Dáil should be active in their duties to the last moment," the Taoiseach wrote to the Fianna Fáil leader.

Mr Varadkar's work programme outlined in the letter includes: engaging with the British government and the Northern Ireland parties to restore power-sharing; starting talks on a new Irish-UK relationship after Brexit; enacting the Climate Change Bill, the Official Languages Bill, and the Land Development Agency Bill.

The Taoiseach's letter also cites a new action plan for rural Ireland to follow the National Broadband Plan; concluding the ethics investigation into 'votegate' and 'fobgate'; and a new Dáil expenses system.

The Fine Gael chairman challenged Mr Martin to commit fully to supporting an active government right up to the end.

Mr Varadkar in his letter suggests that Fianna Fáil might have to actually vote with Fine Gael - and not just abstain as it has done until now - to make any deal on election timing work.

An early flashpoint could be a no-confidence motion in the embattled Health Minister, Simon Harris, next month.

But Fianna Fáil sources suggested that this may be avoided.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section