Tuesday 17 September 2019

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar must stop 'floating' prospect of election and instead prepare for no-deal Brexit, warns Micheál Martin

Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

FIANNA Fáil leader Micheál Martin has accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of "floating" the prospect of a general election when he should be focusing on preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Martin's claim comes after it was revealed that Mr Varadkar's supporters have been warned to be on an election footing "at all times".

Independent.ie yesterday reported today that Fine Gael headquarters has instructed constituency organisers to make "a major push" on preparations "in the next few weeks".

Mr Martin's party props up the Fine Gael-led minority government under an extended confidence-and-supply deal.

He responded to the rival party's preparations saying "periodically Fine Gael and indeed the Taoiseach keep floating the prospect of a general election".

"I think what's urgently needed now... is preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

"I mean, that's what the Taoiseach should be focusing on and that's what the government and the Fine Gael party in government should be focusing on."

Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

He urged them to "be more transparent, be more upfront with the public in terms of the implications of a no-deal Brexit for us, for our economy, for the SME sector, for the agri-food sector and then announcing the kind of initiatives to protect those sectors as best we can in the event of a no-deal Brexit".

Mr Martin also said the Government needs to be "fully transparent" about talks with the European Commission on how checks and controls at the border with Northern Ireland can be avoided in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

He added: "In terms of elections I took a decision last December not to precipitate a general election.

"I think I'm being more than vindicated by that decision, given the volatility within British politics and the need for this country to be on one message and to have a consensus-type approach to what is a deep national threat to us in terms of our economy and the economy of the entire island."

He said it's still his view that the election should not take place until next year.

Asked by RTÉ Radio's Seán O'Rourke if this meant he was giving a blank cheque to the government on the upcoming Budget, Mr Martin insisted that it would be subject to "reasonable negotiations" and it must protect services.

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