Sunday 26 January 2020

Taoiseach on potential February 14 election: 'It would be a Valentine's Day massacre for our opponents'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would like a "St Valentine’s Day massacre" on his opponents if he decided to hold the election on the February 14.

Speaking ahead of Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, the Taoiseach was asked if he would like to "feel the love" of voters by holding the general election on St Valentine’s Day.

Mr Varadkar responded saying he hoped Fine Gael would receive the "love of the people" while it would be a "Valentine's Day Massacre for our opponents".

However, he said the election will be held when "it’s the right time for the country".

"When you're in politics, you always have to be prepared for an election, at the same time you can always be better prepared for election but that's not what matters. What matters is when it's the right time for the country," he said.

He also said he believes he has the numbers to defeat a motion of no confidence set to be tabled in Health Minister Simon Harris.

The Taoiseach said people should not take the motion threatened by three rural Independent TDs "too serious".

"I've lost count of the number of the confidence motions that have been put down over the last couple of years," Mr Varadkar said.

"They're all defeated and they're largely done so that individual members of the opposition or a particular opposition party can get some airtime and that's the game they're playing. Fair enough but let's not take it too serious," he added.

Rural Independent Group TDs Michael Collins, Michael Healy-Rae and Mattie McGrath said they would put down a motion in Mr Harris on February 5 if the Taoiseach did not call an election before then.

The Taoiseach said he would be consulting with his own party, the Independent Alliance and Independent ministers in the coming days.

Despite yesterday saying he would also consult with Independent TDs who support his Government, such as Noel Grealish and Michael Lower, Mr Varadkar changed his stance today and said he would "think about" contacting theme over the weekend.

He also denied the two controversial TDs were the "lynchpins" who hold his Government together.

"The way the Dáil works is people are free to vote in the way that they choose. We've never had a formal agreement with any of the TDs that you mentioned and I don't see that changing," he added.

Mr Varadkar refused to give any details on his meeting with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin apart from saying it "went well".

However, he said he would be holding a Cabinet meeting next Tuesday and the Dáil would return the following day.

Online Editors

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