Monday 10 December 2018

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Election on the cards?

Wednesday, 10th October, 2018 5:09pm

An Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said Fine Gael “don't want an election” as the future of the Government was thrown into doubt this week.

Early talks began between Fine Gael (FG) and Fianna Fáil (FF) over the continuation of the current Government this week following the delivery of Budget 2019.

FG and FF confirmed talks had begun over extending the confidence and supply agreement, which sees FF support FG in a minority government by supporting it on key votes, or abstaining.

The agreement was to last for three budgets, the last of which was delivered this week, meaning it now must be renegotiated. Should no new deal be agreed, it is likely there will be a general election.

An Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Fine Gael “don’t want an election”, but that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had refused to enter re-negotiations during the summer.

“We want to agree that the current Dáil should run until the summer of 2020,” Minister Coveney said.

“That is why the Taoiseach asked Micheál Martin more than 40 days ago to renegotiate the confidence and supply agreement during the quiet summer period. Micheál refused.”

“Now we are facing an extremely busy period with Brexit, the Taoiseach wants to get this done by the end of the October recess. That’s plenty of time to renegotiate. We are eager to get our teams working.”

However, a plan to sew up a new agreement in the next couple of weeks appears unlikely.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told the Cork Independent that while the “country needed stability” at the time of the 2016 agreement, “facilitating a minority Fine Gael government is not, and has never been, my preference”.

Deputy Martin said, that while a review of the agreement was now required, it was also necessary to “understand why delivery on many key issues has been so poor”.

“Delays in implementing improvements in health and housing need to be understood before any possible renegotiation of the arrangement takes place,” he said.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said both parties should be given the “time and space to work out the details” of a new agreement.

“Both parties have their own views, we would like to get it done sooner rather than later. It is our clearly stated position that we do not want or see the need for a general election.

“It is hardly a conceivable position for Government which has embarked on perhaps the most challenging diplomatic event of our generation would find itself looking over its shoulder regarding its own security of tenure,” Minister Creed cautioned.

“So the issue needs be put to bed as soon as possible.”

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