Tuesday 20 November 2018

Varadkar and Martin agree to fresh talks over deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture: Frank McGrath

Ralph Riegel and Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has privately invited Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to talks aimed at renewing the 'confidence and supply' arrangement.

The pair have engaged in a tit-for-tat battle over the airwaves in recent weeks, but now look set for face-to-face negotiations. It is understood Fine Gael has sought preliminary talks to assess the ongoing relationship between the two parties.

A source said it may just be "talks about talks" at this stage, but movement is coming.

In Co Cork yesterday, Mr Varadkar said he did not want a general election this autumn.

He confirmed he hoped to meet with Mr Martin "as soon as he is available" to determine if the arrangement that underpins the minority Government can be extended.

The deal, hammered out in 2016, is scheduled to end after Budget 2019 is passed. The Taoiseach said he had not spoken with the Cork TD in the past 24 hours, but would be seeking a meeting in the coming days.

The meeting is being sought after numerous Fianna Fáil officials accused the Government of trying to 'talk up' a snap general election in late 2018.

"I did request that we meet this week and he agreed to meet but wasn't able to find time in the diary to meet this week," Mr Varadkar said.

"Hopefully, [we] will be free next week and we will be able to discuss relations and the functioning of the confidence and supply agreement.

"I would like to see this Government continue and I'll have a discussion with the leader of Fianna Fáil as soon as he's available to meet about that and we'll take it from there."

Mr Varadkar said relations between the two parties were fine. "I don't think they [relations] are as bad as people may believe or are making out. But ultimately we are the Government and they are the opposition," he added.

Irish Independent

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