Monday 26 August 2019

Varadkar: 'Election can still be avoided but if one is triggered country should go to polls before Christmas'

  • Taoiseach says he does not want an election
  • He meet Fianna Fáil leader on Saturday
  • Election 'should be held before Christmas' but can still be avoided
  • 'Still have opportunity to avoid an election' - Varadkar
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

There will be a General Election if the current impasse between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is not resolved by Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

He also said that in the event of a  snap election it should take place before Christmas, dismissing any suggestion the election could take place in the New Year.

In his first public comments since Fianna Fáil tabled a motion of no confidence in Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, Mr Varadkar said he will stand by her in the days ahead.

He accused Opposition TDs of trying to carry out a “summary execution” without knowing all the facts.

“I don’t believe the decapitation of the Tánaiste based on the trumped up charges is fair,” he said.

Asked on RTÉ’s Six One News why he wouldn’t ask Ms Fitzgerald to step aside in the national interest, he said that would be him “throwing a good woman under the bus for political expediency to save myself and my government”.

He refused to be drawn on whether he would accept Ms Fitzgerald's resignation should she tender it, instead saying he did not believe such a situation would arise.

The Fine Gael leader also said that he would not be "rushing to the park" to dissolve the Dáil over the weekend.

“We still have opportunity for the next few days to avoid an election. Certainly I don’t want there to be a general election,” he said.

Mr Varadkar gave no indication that he would cede ground to Micheál Martin in the dispute.

“I think fundamentally this had to be about truth, justice and fairness," he said.

He described the case against Frances Fitzgerald – that she didn’t act on an email alerting her to legal rows at the O’Higgins Commission – was “flimsy”.

 “If there is an election before Christmas it’ll be because Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin came together,” the Taoiseach said.

On the issue of Brexit, Mr Varadkar said he would still be able to travel the EU Council meeting on December 14 even if it falls mid-election.

The future of the Irish border is due to be decided at that conference.

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