Saturday 25 January 2020

Varadkar wants assurances that Martin has 'own party's support' before deciding election date

Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin
Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would need assurances from Micheál Martin that he has the full support of his own party members before he could agree an election date with the Fianna Fáil leader.

The Taoiseach also said he did not want a three or four month election campaign and insisted the Dáil should not be wound down in an orderly fashion as Mr Martin has suggested.

The Taoiseach said the precarious nature of the Dáil numbers means Mr Martin would have to confirm to him that his entire party would abstain on motions of no confidence should they be tabled in the new year.

Speaking in Government Buildings, Mr Varadkar said: “I would need the assurance from Micheál Martin that he actually has the support of his party for this.”

“If he is going to have dissidents in his party that go against the whip, will he be able to provide people who counterbalance perhaps that by voting with us on motions rather than abstaining,” he added.

Mr Varadkar was referring to Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness who recently told the Dáil he would not support a motion of confidence in the Government if one is tabled by the Opposition when the parliament returns after Christmas.

“I know if I come to an agreement on extending confidence and supply through to April or May, I’m confident I will have unanimous support from my parliamentary party for that,” he said

“Given what has been said by John McGuinness, and there may be others, it is reasonable for us to say that we don’t know that Fianna Fáil is united behind their leader on this issue and we would need to know that.

“There is no point in coming up to an agreement with Fianna Fáil only to find that there is a breakdown within Fianna Fáil and they can’t honour their side of it,” he added.

The Taoiseach said he disagreed with Mr Martin’s suggestion that the Dail should be wound down in an orderly fashion after an election date is agreed between the two leaders.

“Deputy Martin continually uses this phrase that there needs to be an ‘orderly wind down’ of the Government and the Dáil. I don’t believe a government should ever be wound down or the Dáil should ever be wound down,” he said.

“Our country has lots of challenges and lots of problems and we should always be busy and focused on dealing with those problems. That applies to the Dáil and that applies to the Government as well.

“What I don’t want to see is a three or four month election campaign and the Dáil and the Government effectively focusing on that rather than focusing on the business of Government and the problems that people face in their everyday lives,” he added.

The Taoiseach said he would reflect on the date of the election over Christmas and confirmed he intended to respond to the letter he received on the issue from Mr Martin last week.

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