Thursday 13 December 2018

Martin and Varadkar discuss new Confidence and Supply deal

Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin
Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has phoned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to discuss an extension to the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

The two have been at odds over when talks on the deal should open – but have now agreed to allow officials set a process in motion.

Sources familiar with the conversation said no timeline has been set out as Mr Varadkar has a big EU Summit on Brexit next week.

The Confidence and Supply Agreement has seen Fianna Fáil give their consent to three budgets, including Budget 2019.

However, it expires once the measures announced by Paschal Donohoe today are passed through the Dáil.

There was significant speculation in Leinster House that an election could take place before Christmas.

Mr Varadkar has previously indicated that he would like Mr Martin to agree on an election date for summer 2020.

However, Mr Martin would struggle to convince his party membership that propping up Fine Gael for two more years would serve them well.

Officials from both parties are expected to meet in the coming days to settle on a review process.

It is likely that Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin will then appoint senior TDs from their parties to enter formal negotiations.

The original deal was only agreed 70 days after the 2016 election.

Speaking this evening on RTE News, Mr Varadkar said that he spoke to Micheál Martin about the deal in the past few hours.

“We’ve agreed that our parties are going to engage now, initially at advisory level and after that appoint negotiation teams.

“Míchael talks in terms of a review of the Confidence and Supply agreement and talks around a timeline running up to Christmas.

“I’m happy to do a review but what I'd like to do is what I set out in August, which is for us to agree a new programme and for Government to continue until the Summer 2020.

“The two parties agreed to engage and we have….I think if we engage, and engage seriously, that we can get this done by the Halloween break or certainly the Halloween recess period.”

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