Frances Fitzgerald cancels appearance at high-profile jobs announcement at eleventh hour
TÁNAISTE Frances Fitzgerald cancelled a scheduled appearance at a high-profile Kilkenny jobs announcement today as the escalating political crisis over her future now threatens to spark a general election.
Ms Fitzgerald was due to attend a major jobs announcement at the plush Lyrath House Hotel outside Kilkenny city this morning.
However, her attendance was cancelled at the eleventh hour as the political crisis escalated at Leinster House.
Junior Trade Minister Pat Breen was delegated to serve in her place at the Kilkenny function.
The cancellation came as senior Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil officials are expected to consult over the weekend in a bid to end the impasse over the Tánaiste's future and avoid a general election.
Ireland now hovers on the brink of a general election over the crisis which could be called for December 21.
If an election is ordered, there is now a looming prospect of ballot counts taking place up until Christmas Eve.
The crisis erupted when Fianna Fáil said it no longer had confidence in the Tánaiste over her handling of a key email in relation to Garda whistleblower, Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
A no confidence motion is now scheduled to be tabled on Tuesday.
Fianna Fáil officials said the crisis can be resolved if Ms Fitzgerald resigns or is removed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
However, at a late night meeting all Fine Gael ministers and TDs voiced overwhelming support of Ms Fitzgerald and her position.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney urged other parties to put the country rather than narrow political interests first given the important issues over budget matters, Brexit and Northern Ireland now looming.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy insisted that if Fianna Fáil does table a no confidence motion in Ms Fitzgerald, it will amount to a clear breach of the agreement the minority Government has with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
Fine Gael officials have accused Fianna Fáil of putting their rivalry with Sinn Féin ahead of national interests and rejected the email controversy as warranting either a no confidence motion or a general election.