Thursday 19 September 2019

'It's not the best thing for the country' - Junior Housing Minister 'optimistic' we will avoid a Christmas election

Junior Housing Minister Damien English
Junior Housing Minister Damien English
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

JUNIOR Housing Minster, Damien English, has today said he is optimistic Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will work out a compromise to avoid a Christmas election.

Mr English said he doesn't believe Tániste Frances Fitzgerald should step aside over the controversy surrounding an email sent to her in 2015, outlining how gardaí were dealing with whistleblower, Maurice McCabe. 

"I think there's an opportunity today, both the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin, have been working hard over the weekend.

"They've had a couple of meetings each day, for the past couple of days," he told Independent.ie.

"Genuinely both of them want to avoid an election, because it's very clear from talking to anybody in any sector, no matter who or what they support, don't want an election." 

Mr English was speaking at the launch of housing charity Threshold's annual report at the Mansion house in Dubin, where he appeared in place of Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who was too busy to attend.

"It's not the best thing for the country at this moment in time and we want to keep the current Government in there, implementing the changes that we need when it comes to housing and homelessness and every other area as well.

"Every effort will be made. I'd be optimistic that the guys will be able to come to a solution," Mr English said.

Read More: 'All that can be done to avoid election is being done' - says Donohoe as country remains on brink of snap election

"It's difficult for everybody involved and it is important that we have natural justice for everybody involved in this.

"I think Frances Fitzgerald did try to make changes for whistleblowers and give the people the opportunity to come forward and to feel protected.

"So I believe her work has shown that. And, there's a tribunal on the way now which will analyse the work of the Department of Justice in this area and that probably the place where this should be done," he said. 

 "And hopefully an agreement can be reached," he said. 

Read More: €7m spend on rural roads announced by Government as election looms

Mr English said he didn't believe the Tánaiste should step aside.

"We should judge her on her actions, not on one email, on her overall actions and I think that's what's important here," he said. 

But the minister said he had his posters at the ready in the event an election was called. 

"Lucky enough after every election I keep my posters, so they’re always there," he said.

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