No point reconvening Dáil without election date, says Martin

Fianna Fáil leader urges Varadkar to action and says Easter would be natural end for Dáil

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: ‘You can’t live from week to week. There will be complete uncertainty.’ File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin: ‘You can’t live from week to week. There will be complete uncertainty.’ File photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said there is “no point” in reconvening the Dáil in January if Taoiseach Leo Varadkar does not give certainty on when exactly the next general election will be.

Mr Martin has written to Mr Varadkar asking him to name a date for the election, with Mr Martin saying Easter represents the “natural end” for the Dáil.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said “the Taoiseach won’t be discussing matters with Micheál Martin through the media” and said the two will “aim to meet before Christmas or in the new year.”

Mr Martin said he does not think it credible for the current Dáil session to go beyond Easter.

“In a number of interviews I made it clear that Easter is a natural end for this Dáil. I don’t think it is credible we would reconvene after Easter,” he told Newstalk on Sunday.

There are 34 sitting days, he said, between the return of the Dáil in January and Easter.

“It is not tenable that the Dáil will continue on an indefinite week-to-week basis so there has to be certainty and clarity brought to the situation.”

Mr Martin said there is “no point in going back on the 15th of January if you don’t have clarity and certainty about that session because you can’t live from week to week. There will be complete uncertainty”.

Are the battle lines being drawn?

He said if a date is not set, “tactics and manoeuvring will take place over substantive work”.

“In the time that is left, it is a tidying up period really if we are honest,” he said.

Mr Martin said he wanted to ensure in the remaining time that an extension to the threshold for medical-card eligibility for over 70s is agreed and that legislation on electoral transparency passes. He also said legislation to allow for medical open disclosure must also be passed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed described Mr Martin’s letter as “bizarre” and said Fianna Fáil can collapse the Government at any time.

A Fine Gael source said that Mr Varadkar has already proposed holding an election next summer and that he is unlikely to move from this position.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Mr Martin was “slow off the mark”.

“I am not going to add to more speculation. The Taoiseach made it clear that he is happy to meet Micheál Martin at the end of the Dáil term to talk about these issues, that is effectively at the end of the week.”