Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, has said the Taoiseach must guarantee no general election until the British parliament makes a decision on any emerging Brexit deal.
Mr Martin said the outer deadline for the UK parliament to ratify Brexit – or formally signal “No Deal” - was January 21 next. He said, whatever the outcome of Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil talks on extending the current minority Government, there must be a government in place to deal with an immediate Irish economic crisis if the UK “crashes out” of the EU.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels, where the Taoiseach later today meets his EU counterparts for a Brexit summit, the Fianna Fáil threw down a direct challenge to Mr Varadkar.
“I’m saying if the British parliament does not succeed in ratifying a deal, there would be a crisis at that point for our country. So, it’s vital that there would be a Government there to deal with that because there would be immediate damage done to our economy,” Mr Martin said replying in Irish to questions posed by journalists.
“So, at very least, I’m looking for agreement from Leo Varadkar not to have any election before that decision is taken by the British parliament,” the Fianna Fáil leader added.
Mr Martin noted that the deadline for ratification by Westminster of any EU-UK Brexit deal is now January 21, 2019. He said that discussions were begun between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on a potential extension of the Confidence and Supply arrangement which has now expired.
Mr Martin said he had travelled to Brussels to meet seven prime ministers and four EU commissioners to assure them that, irrespective of who was in power in Dublin, he would be working for stability and continuity. The group are part of the EU ALDE Liberal political group to which Fianna Fáil is allied.
Mr Martin also said there were signs that the British Prime Minister may manage to bypass the Democratic Unionist Party, who are propping up her minority government, and perhaps get support from the Scottish National Party and/or elements from the opposition Labour Party.
He said the DUP approach to Brexit was damaging and unhelpful.
“I don’t think it’s in the best interest of Northern Ireland, in terms of citizens, in terms of employment, in terms of businesses and in terms of agri-food,” he said.
He said the EU had a huge impact on the North in supporting the peace process over the past 25 years and generous grant aid generally.
“I think unionist politicians need to think very carefully about that and stand back from the larger political issues. The constitutional status of Northern Ireland, that’s not endangered by what is proposed here,” he added.
The Fianna Fáil leader said he retained the hope that the EU and the UK can do a Brexit deal in the coming weeks and at least before this year ends.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asking him to agree to not bring down the Government while crucial Brexit negotiations are on going.
A Fine Gael general election candidate has called for Junior Minister Pat Breen to step down over his involvement in the national broadband scandal which led to Communication Minister Denis Naughten’s resignation.