Tuesday 21 January 2020

Minister warns Cabinet colleagues not to get 'too cocky' amid election speculation

Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke
Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath. Photo: Tom Burke

Laura Larkin

A GOVERNMENT minister has called for “common sense politics” and issued a word of warning to Cabinet colleagues not to get “too cocky” amid escalating speculation over a potential election.

Independent Alliance Minister Finian McGrath said “people do not want an election. People want solutions to problems”.

Mr McGrath acknowledged that there are some ministers at the Cabinet table urging the Taoiseach to call an election.

“You hear that talk. You would hear those kind of discussions in government, that’s a part of the reality of being in a minority government. But the reality is we’re independents, our focus is on the issues we put into the Programme for Government.

“But there are differences of opinion – but I would warn people not to get too cocky or to be swaggering around the place. That’s not acceptable, we need to ensure that people have a stable government at a very busy time in our history in relation to Brexit, in relation to the Health services… people just want us to focus on solutions, they don’t want us to be just jumping up and down about elections,” he said.

“We’re looking for common sense politics here.”

Mr McGrath said he believed the summer recess would provide an ideal opportunity for Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to begin discussions about extending the Confidence and Supply arrangement. He said he understands that the Fine Gael leader may be feeling frustration.

“I will be very supportive of the Taoiseach because we want to focus on the real issues and we don’t want any distractions,” he said.

Mr McGrath was speaking as he announced €14m in funding for the Disabled Persons Grant Scheme, which provides funding for extensions or adaptations to homes for elderly people or people living with a disability. Funding can be provided for accessibility ramps, wet rooms and extensions in the case of overcrowding.

The funding allocation has increased by €2m compared to last year and Mr McGrath said he has received a commitment that if there is additional demand the funding can be increased.

People who are approved for social housing may also apply for funds under the scheme to carry out works on privately owned accommodation and it is hoped this will take additional pressure off of he housing supply.

Mr McGrath said he hoped the move would “greatly improve” the living situation for people with disabilities and said he will work with local authorities to ensure there is a high level of uptake of the scheme.

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