Parties must agree deal to take Dáil to Easter, says Martin

Fianna Fáil leader says end of spring session in April is optimum time for general election

Micheál Martin: ‘Let us agree a set of do-able legislative priorities to the Easter break’

Micheál Martin: ‘Let us agree a set of do-able legislative priorities to the Easter break’

 

It would be “untenable” for the Dáil to continue until Easter if the Taoiseach does not agree to a short-term legislative programme between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin has said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said Leo Varadkar had yet to respond to a letter he sent last week requesting such an arrangement.

He said he feared the absence of such a deal would lead to Independent TDs “eyeballing each other to see who would jump first” and cause the Government to collapse.

With the Government’s support now at a precarious level and reliant on the support of Fianna Fáil to stay in power through the confidence and supply arrangement, Mr Martin said failing to make a deal would make the continuation of the Dáil until Easter “untenable”.

Scenarios

During a meeting of Fine Gael Ministers on Thursday, Mr Varadkar outlined a number of scenarios on when the election could be held. He was said to have discussed the merits of calling a winter election or waiting until early summer.

A May election was previously the Taoiseach’s preferred option, and it is understood Mr Varadkar’s chief-of-staff, Brian Murphy, pointed out that three of the last six elections were held in winter.

The sensible and logical option is to replace short-term manoeuvring and opportunism and tactics with substance

During an interview with political correspondents on Thursday, Mr Martin said his preference was for the 32nd Dáil to finish by Holy Thursday, April 9th.

He said the end of the spring session was the “natural cut-off point of the Dáil” and “there is little point in coming back after Easter”.

Preferred date

Asked if this meant he was now on board with Mr Varadkar’s preferred date of May, he said not necessarily, and that the election could take place at the end of April. He was not sure if Mr Varadkar actually wanted an election in May.

“He is keeping his options open. He is weighing up if he wants to go immediately after the the [Dáil] reconvenes [in January] or if he wants a later date.

“The sensible and logical option is to replace short-term manoeuvring and opportunism and tactics with substance. Let us agree a set of do-able legislative priorities to the Easter break.”