Wednesday 12 December 2018

Growing doubts in Fianna Fáil over new deal to keep Varadkar and FG in power

Senior figures like John McGuinness have already expressed concern that the deal with Fine Gael is damaging the party. Photo: Tom Burke
Senior figures like John McGuinness have already expressed concern that the deal with Fine Gael is damaging the party. Photo: Tom Burke

Wayne O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

There are growing doubts Fianna Fáil will allow Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to spend another two years in power after more of the party's TDs raised questions about the future of the confidence and supply agreement.

Fianna Fáil has committed to supporting the Government through three budgets before reviewing the terms of the deal that sees the party facilitate the Fine Gael-led minority Government.

Party leader Micheál Martin said the party will seek to negotiate a budget and allow its implementation in the following months - an indication that he would like to avoid an election this year.

However, senior figures like John McGuinness have already expressed concern that the deal with Fine Gael is damaging the party. And there is now a growing belief in Fianna Fáil's ranks that renewing the confidence and supply deal will prove difficult to achieve.

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill said renegotiation with Fine Gael after the Budget would be "extremely difficult".

"As far as I would be concerned, once the third budget is over the bets are off at that stage," he said.

"If you take their record on housing, on health and the funding of roads, agriculture and rural life, I think the Government has failed to deliver on the barometer we have set out for them. I would think renegotiation of the deal would be extremely difficult."

Roscommon TD Eugene Murphy said he believes there will be difficulty even getting a third budget through and, for this to take place, he said there will have to be "hard bargaining".

On the prospect of extending the confidence and supply deal after the Budget, he said: "I'd be very sceptical."

One source said the confidence and supply deal is being seen as a "no-win" arrangement for Fianna Fáil as the party is not viewed as being in opposition or in government and members are "sick of it".

Another TD said they believe there is a majority in Fianna Fáil who want an end to the deal but added: "We can't just cut and run. We have to have a good reason to go to the country."

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said it was "too early to say" if the deal will be renewed.

He said the "major hurdle" of the Budget will have to be overcome first. He added that he believes this can be done but it will take "difficult negotiations" and "considerable progress" in the areas of housing and health.

He said the question of renewing the deal "only arises after we have negotiated the third budget".

Irish Independent

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