Tuesday 18 December 2018

New Confidence and Supply deal could be wrapped up quickly 'if both sides wanted to' - Taoiseach

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the end of the 79th Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Citywest Picture by Fergal Phillips.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the end of the 79th Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Citywest Picture by Fergal Phillips.
Ministers at the of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Fine Gael Ard Fheis in Citywest Picture by Fergal Phillips.
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A NEW Confidence and Supply arrangement could be wrapped up very quickly 'if both parties wanted to' do a deal, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The Fine Gael leader was speaking after senior members of his party used the Fine Gael Ard Fhéis to ramp up pressure on Fianna Fáil to begin talks on a new deal.

Currently there is a review underway of how the arrangement has worked to date.

But various Fine Gael ministers have said the talks must move on to the next phase, something which has been rejected by Micheál Martin, who says the review has not concluded.

Speaking on The Week in Politics on RTÉ One this afternoon, Mr Varadkar insisted he is putting the needs of the country first and reiterated his offer to agree a General Election in 2020.

He said it is possible to renew the deal very quickly “if both sides wanted to”.

In a separate interview the Taoiseach claimed the deal could be done “in a weekend”.

Mr Varadkar also defended a pledge to raise the tax bands to allow a person to earn €50,000 before paying the highest rate of tax which he said will cost around €600m per year.

He said Ireland needs to remain competitive and to ease the tax burden on the squeezed middle.

He rejected a suggestion that the move was straight out of Bertie Ahern’s pre-election playbook and said Fine Gael have a record in behaving responsibly when delivering budgets.

Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesperson Micheal McGrath said there is a reluctance on the part of Fine Gael to engage in a real review of their record over the past five years. He denied the party are pursuing a strategy of stalling in order to hold off an election until Fine Gael ‘slip on their own banana skin’.

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