Micheál Martin indicates spring preference for election

Fianna Fáil leader closer to accepting Varadkar’s signals for general election date

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “I said repeatedly I don’t see an election this year, that spring-time is a more appropriate time and it is something that can become more precise as time evolves, but I actually think there’s a clear pathway.”  File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: “I said repeatedly I don’t see an election this year, that spring-time is a more appropriate time and it is something that can become more precise as time evolves, but I actually think there’s a clear pathway.” File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin appears to have moved closer to accepting the timing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has signalled for a general election.

He has warned against an election this year because of continuing uncertainty over Brexit, and repeated his view that a vote should be held in the spring.

Previously, he has refused to be specific about when there should be an election as speculation intensified in the wake of the Brexit deal between the EU and British prime minister Boris Johnson.

But on Sunday he said, “the Taoiseach has said May. I don’t think if you look at the calendar there’s a whole lot between us. And I think, it’s in and around that time we’re looking at.”

Having referred to a spring election, Mr Martin was asked to specify exactly when that would be. He said: “Spring has March, April and May contained within it.”

Mr Martin was speaking to reporters after his address at the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown, Co Kildare.

When asked why he would not just show down the endless speculation about an election and agree to the May date, Mr Martin said: “Fine Gael have consistently used Brexit to develop this kind of stuff about election speculation and all of that.

“To be fair to the Taoiseach, he has said as late as Friday he doesn’t see an election until May.

Spring-time ‘more appropriate’

“I said repeatedly I don’t see an election this year, that spring-time is a more appropriate time and it is something that can become more precise as time evolves, but I actually think there’s a clear pathway.”

He said there was continuing uncertainty around Brexit. “I think Ireland has been loud on Brexit in only one aspect, the clarity of the national consensus. And I think that has stood us in good stead, as a country.”

Mr Martin said his party had demonstrated maturity around how politics should be done in this country, now and into the future.

“Everything we said we would do, we have done. We haven’t sprung traps on the Government. We haven’t tried to undermine the Government in terms of pulling the rug.”

He said that set its own benchmark, “in terms of how parties into the future should behave in the national interest. People need stability in their lives. Politics should give stability.”

Irish politicians across the Dáil and Seanad “put the livelihoods of the Irish people first and foremost, and took the right approach, and that’s the way I intend to continue”.