Martin says Varadkar would be ‘reckless’ to call election now

‘The one person who has done the most to create an aura of instability around his own Government is the Taoiseach himself’

 Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: he stressed his offer to guarantee the stability of the Government until the outcome of the talks in Brussels is clear

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: he stressed his offer to guarantee the stability of the Government until the outcome of the talks in Brussels is clear

 

It would be “reckless” for the Taoiseach to call an election during such uncertainty over Brexit, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

Speaking at his party’s annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown, Co Kildare, he stressed his offer to guarantee the stability of the Government until the outcome of the talks in Brussels is clear.

However, Mr Martin said that a review of the confidence and supply agreement had to take place before Fianna Fáil would consider discussing a renewal of the agreement into next year.

This sets the two parties at odds over the format of the talks before they begin this week, with Fianna Fáil insisting that they will be in two distinct phases – review and then possible renewal – while Fine Gael says the process will consist of just one phase.

Mr Martin said his party was “very clear” on the nature of the talks.

“It’s a review, and obviously, depending on the quality of that review, the depth of that review and the outcome of that review, that leads into a further phase.”

He rejected comments by Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney at the weekend that the process should be wrapped up in the month.

Deadlines

“I’m not putting deadlines on it,” Mr Martin said, speaking to journalists after his speech to the gathering, which drew around 150 party representatives and activists.

“Let’s be clear, we’ve been very generous. I took an initiative last week which basically was to say to the Taoiseach that notwithstanding the status of the review that both parties would agree not to bring down the Government during the critical phase of Brexit negotiations and indeed the ratification process.

“Also we said we would facilitate the passage of the Finance Bill...and the social protection legislation.”

Earlier, in his prepared speech Mr Martin said: “We are setting no new conditions. and we will agree to no new conditions or deadlines.”

Both in his speech and his remarks to the media, Mr Martin was critical of the approach of Mr Varadkar and his Ministers to the talks, which Fine Gael has been seeking since the summer.

“It is a curious fact that the one person who has done the most to create an aura of instability around his own Government is the Taoiseach himself. I have not contributed to that, and I’m not going to contribute to that now or, indeed, in the coming months.

“I’ve been very straight and faithful to the commitments I’ve given. All I ask is for others to do the same,” said the Fianna Fáil leader.

Unexpected

On Brexit, Mr Martin said: “It would be reckless to have an election in the midst of all of that. We need a parliament and we need a government that can respond to the unexpected around Brexit, and we could be facing some unexpected developments around Brexit.”

Talks are scheduled to begin this week between the two parties’ negotiating teams.

The Fine Gael team will be led by Tánaiste Simon Coveney. The others members are Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty and party chairman Martin Heydon.

The Fianna Fáil review team will comprise deputy leader Dara Calleary, finance spokesman Michael McGrath, Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers and agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue.