Taoiseach says relationship with Micheál Martin is good

Leo Varadkar and FF leader likely to meet next week to discuss confidence and supply

Leo Varadkar: Relations are probably better than they are in traditional circumstances between government and opposition.

Leo Varadkar: Relations are probably better than they are in traditional circumstances between government and opposition.

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has moved to play down any suggestions of a breakdown in his relationship with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin after Mr Martin accused Mr Varadkar of being “prickly”.

Mr Martin also described Mr Varadkar as having “an authoritarian streak” after it was reported Mr Varadkar was highly critical of the Irish media whom he accused of being interested more in gossip than the truth when speaking at a private function in New York earlier in the week.

But speaking in Cork on Friday when he was asked about Mr Martin’s comments and his relationship with him, Mr Varadkar seemed somewhat surprised before moving to quickly play down any talk of a rift which might jeopardise Fianna Fáil support for the minority Fine Gael led government.

“No, I have not met him in the last 24 hours. I did request that we meet this week and he agreed to meet but wasn’t able to find time in the diary to meet this week. Hopefully he’ll be free next week and we’ll be able to discuss relations and the functioning of the confidence and supply agreement.”

When asked how relations were between the two, Mr Varadkar paused for several moments before responding: “Government and opposition, you know. I don’t think they are as bad as people may believe or are making out but ultimately we are the Government and they are the opposition.”

“Relations are probably better than they are in traditional circumstances between government and opposition,” he said before adding that the Fine Gael led government which includes some independents had worked well over the past two years to introduce new legislation.

“We’ve had 70 pieces of legislation through, which is quite a lot, notwithstanding the fact that we are a minority Government – we have repealed the Eighth Amendment, which we committed to do, giving that choice to the Irish people.

“The economy is in a very good position, unemployment is at its lowest in 10 years, even things where we have huge difficulties like health and housing, we are starting to see rents stabilise and construction of new homes is increasing - it’s 45 per cent more year on year.

“So I think we are seeing progress in more areas than we’re falling back on. I would like to see this government continue and I’ll have a discussion with the leader of Fianna Fáil as soon as he’s available to meet about that and we’ll take it from there.”