Monday 18 June 2018

One in five Fianna Fáil TDs wants to pull plug on FG deal

Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Cormac McQuinn and Wayne O'Connor

One in five Fianna Fáil TDs either wants to see an end to the confidence and supply deal with Fine Gael or has expressed serious doubts about its future.

Party leader Micheál Martin played down the chances of an election this year in recent remarks about the future of the agreement to facilitate the minority Government.

But nine of the party's 45 TDs questioned the desirability or scope for its renewal in response to a survey by the Irish Independent.

The significant number expressing scepticism about the future of the deal could cause a headache for Mr Martin if he does seek his party's approval to renew the deal.

Dublin Mid-West TD John Curran said he's not in favour of renewing it because of huge housing and health issues in his constituency: "We need substantial change and there is no sign of that at the moment."

Kildare North TD James Lawless said he wasn't convinced of the merits of an extension. He believes it will "reach a natural end" following the Budget and after Irish issues are dealt with in the Brexit talks.

Sligo TD Marc MacSharry: not in favour of the deal being renewed. Photo: Tom Burke
Sligo TD Marc MacSharry: not in favour of the deal being renewed. Photo: Tom Burke

"After that, we've honoured our commitment and people have a right to make a fresh choice on who should be running the ship," he said.

Constituency colleague Frank O'Rourke said he doesn't personally favour renewal at this time due a "lack of delivery" in health and housing. He said ultimately it will be a matter for Mr Martin and the party and he will accept its decision.

Sligo TD Marc MacSharry also said he's not in favour of the deal being renewed. He had wanted to see a "national government" including all parties after the 2016 election. He was concerned the confidence and supply deal would lead to a "lame duck" parliament.

He said: "The sooner the circumstances permit for proper government for the people, the better."

Open mind: Mayo TD Lisa Chambers. Photo: Tom Burke
Open mind: Mayo TD Lisa Chambers. Photo: Tom Burke

Fianna Fáil children spokesperson Anne Rabbitte said she's not in favour of extending the deal after the Budget unless the Government has "performed miracles" between now and then. She said her party will seek to agree a Budget as it is "honourable", but the Galway East TD cited a number of problems including housing, health and the fodder shortage.

Kildare South TD Fiona O'Loughlin said she believes it would be "difficult" to extend the deal, saying housing and health are "red-line issues". She said she respects the judgment of Mr Martin on the issue.

Laois TD Seán Fleming said he believes a new deal is "unlikely" but thinks the minority Government will try to continue without a new confidence and supply arrangement.

Roscommon TD Eugene Murphy is in favour of passing a Budget but would be "very sceptical" of the prospect of extending the deal after that.

No comment: Dara Calleary. Photo: Steve Humphreys
No comment: Dara Calleary. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Jackie Cahill, a Tipperary TD, thinks renegotiation would be "extremely difficult".

Senior Fine Gael figures, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, have signalled the party wants to see the deal continued beyond the three Budgets that were signed up to.

The uncertainty of a looming Brexit is being increasingly cited in a bid to guilt Fianna Fáil into extending the agreement.

Mr Martin sought to play down the prospects of an election this year in recent remarks about the future of confidence and supply.

He said he was "fully determined" that Fianna Fáil would continue to honour the deal which he said was up for review at the end of 2018, once the Budget and its enacting legislation has been passed.

The responses from 22 TDs, including many on the front-bench, indicated they either had an open mind about renewing the deal, or that it was too early to be considering the question.

Clare TD Timmy Dooley said: "We don't have to have an election." He suggested that if Fine Gael was "serious" about addressing housing and health, the deal could be renewed for two-and-a-half years up to a full Dáil term.

Dublin Fingal TD Darragh O'Brien said if renewal "made sense for the country, I'm not against it", while public expenditure spokesman Barry Cowen said the party would honour its commitment to a review of the deal but the prospects of extending it depend on delivery of a Budget more focused on housing and health.

Irish Independent

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