Friday 23 August 2019

'Some progress' made as talks between Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin to resume on Monday

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin met in Dublin on Sunday night and sources close to the pair said "some progress was made".

Talks are due to resume on Monday as the party leaders try to stave off a Christmas election.

On Saturday, Mr Varadkar handed over a series of documents to Mr Martin when they met to discuss the latest Garda whistleblower scandal which is threatening to collapse the Government.

The documents consisted of Department of Justice correspondence relating to a garda legal strategy against Sgt Maurice McCabe.

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have maintained they don't want a General Election this Christmas but Mr Martin is still insisting the Tánaiste should resign over claims she failed to act when she became aware of the legal strategy that was to be pursued against Sgt McCabe.

The Taoiseach is sticking by Ms Fitzgerald and is adamant that she should not resign.

Labour TD Alan Kelly, who raised this issue during parliamentary questions, released a statement on Monday night asking why the Tánaiste did not ask questions of her own department about the legal strategy.

Deputy Kelly said: "Every day we are finding out more and more of what was going on in the Department of Justice around the time of the O'Higgins Commission. Now there is a trawl going on in the Department of Justice which will provide even more information. One wonders why the Department couldn't have provided this information in response to my parliamentary questions?"

Meanwhile, Independent.ie revealed earlier today that Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is to allow her name go forward for the Dublin Mid West general election convention on Tuesday, Independent.ie has learned.

Ms Fitzgerald will be one of at least four candidates who will seek a nomination.

She confimed she will allow her name to go forward despite the controversy surrounding the justice email.

Fine Gael is likely to run two candidates in the four seat constituency and has set a deadline for 5.30pm tomorrow for nominations.

Independent.ie understands that councillors William Lavelle, Emer Higgins and Vicki Casserly will also be nominated.

Mr Lavelle, a Lucan-based representative, previously served as Ms Fitzgerald's special advisor when she was justice minister.

It emerged this week that he was copied on the email that was sent to Ms Fitzgerald in 2015.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Lavelle said he will make a decision on Tuesday but that members have advised him that his name is to go before the convention.

"I don't want this election, nobody does. But our priority, first and foremost, will be getting our Tánaiste re-elected."

Read more: Leo Varadkar 'is doing everything he can' to avoid a snap general election - spokesman

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