Friday 18 October 2019

Simon Coveney rules out snap autumn election

The Tánaiste was speaking as he attended the launch of a new unit at Cork University Hospital

Simon Coveney Photo: Tom Burke
Simon Coveney Photo: Tom Burke

Ralph Riegel

TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney has ruled out a snap election in the autumn.

Mr Coveney insisted that talk about an imminent general election was "a distraction" from the vital business of Government - despite revelations that Fine Gael have been working on campaign strategy after the failings of the party's 2016 election plan.

"I don't think we are likely to have an election any time soon," Mr Coveney insisted.

"I am not sure that people want that - what people want is for the Government to get on and solve the problems they face, particularly around housing and healthcare at the moment."

"But also to continue to build a strong and resilient economy which is what we have been doing now for years."

"Let's not forget that over the past seven years Ireland has gone from nearly 16pc unemployment to now well below 6pc."

"I think the job of Fine Gael in Government with our partners in terms of the independents that are working with us is to continue to try to provide the best governance that we can."

"Ireland has been through a very difficult ten years - we know that."

"But I think we can look forward with a lot of optimism - we want to get on and govern the country properly rather than be distracted by talk of elections."

The Tánaiste was speaking as he attended the launch of a new unit at Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Earlier, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had accused Fine Gael of trying to "manufacture" a snap election.

Mr Martin said Fine Gael TDs and ministers have been "openly talking" about a snap election and about "how they'd love an election right now".

He criticised Mr Varadkar for feeding into speculation that Sinn Féin were set to table a motion of no confidence in Housing Minister Eoghan

Murphy, something Mr Varadkar warned a private Fine Gael meeting could trigger a snap election.

Mr Varadkar later publicly stated that he has no interest in an election.

However, research commissioned by his party shows that work is well underway on the possibility.

A wide-ranging poll showed that the party is already testing slogans for a potential general election and testing the public mood on key areas.

Mr Varadkar, a long-standing admirer of former Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Sean Lemass, has his party considering one slogan which is a throw-back to a successful Fianna Fáil campaign of the 1960s.

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