Tuesday 20 August 2019

Why an election would not be the worst thing for Ireland right now - expert

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An election would not be the worst thing for the country right now, according to a leading politics professor.

Professor of Politics at Dublin City University, Gary Murphy, said the current confidence and supply agreement is "done and dusted".

Speaking to RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Professor Murphy said another election could mean a better set-up in government with a new confidence and supply agreement, if necessary.

"I'm not saying we should have an election in December," Professor Murphy said.

"But I think the confidence and supply agreement is done and dusted.

"It might be no harm to have an election.

"Bringing it into January brings more confusion, more delay and more uncertainty.

"And I'm not sure the country can afford it."

The professor said he is confident that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar could participate in Brexit talks with an ongoing election in Ireland.

"I think the Taoiseach can still go to Brexit talks with the full confidence of his office.

"He's relatively young, with plenty of energy.

"I don't think it would make a difference if he was in the middle of an election or not.

"I'm not sure it would [mean he was politically undermined].

"I don't see any reason for that to be the case.

"Leo Varadkar is leader of our country...

"He has full constitutional authority, I think that's what counts."

The political scientist said if the results were similar to the election in 2016, he would see this as an opportunity to get the confidence and supply agreement "right" this time.

"I think what we really need - if the results are much the same as last year as they could well be on the poll numbers - another confidence and supply agreement and get it right this time.

"To those who thought the parliament would assert itself in relation to Article 28.4 of the constitution, that the government shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann, that's never really worked in Irish politics," he said.

"The government have always dominated parliament and I think it's the same here.

"That's the reality of the situation for Fianna Fáil, can Fianna Fáil live with a scenario that they can't take Fine Gael running roughshod over them on this issue again."

Professor Gary Murphy said the advantage for having an election in the New Year means the Taoiseach could choose when to go to the country himself.

"This could be Micheal Martin's third election as a leader of Fianna Fáil and I'm not sure they'll give him a fourth chance.

"The Taoiseach is in a different position, he is a lot younger and does not want to be the short-serving Taoiseach in history."

He also said he believed a government could be set up a lot quicker than the 2016 General Election's 70 days.

"Hopefully the first bash of it will have sharpened minds," he added. 

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