Fianna Fáil used Brexit crisis to ‘run away from electorate’, McDonald claims

Labour calls for summer 2019 election when Brexit situation clear

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Varadkar and Martin  could have spared ‘the pretence of a critical tension between Tweedledum and Tweedledee’. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Varadkar and Martin could have spared ‘the pretence of a critical tension between Tweedledum and Tweedledee’. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused Fianna Fáil of using the Brexit crisis to “run away from the electorate” in agreeing to extend its confidence and supply arrangement with Fine Gael.

She derided the party’s leader Micheál Martin after he told the Dáil a general election next year was not in the national interest and that the chaos in Britain with Brexit would not be allowed to spread to Ireland.

Ms McDonald said it was “astonishing even by Micheál Martin’s dithering standards that it took nine weeks to establish that his Government has failed in areas such as housing”.

Referring to the discussions between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in a review of the confidence and supply agreement, she offered her party’s services “from the real Opposition benches, to speed up any future reviews”.

She said she could have given them a review in two minutes and “we could have spared ourselves the melodrama and the pretence of a critical tension between Tweedledum and Tweedledee”.

The Sinn Féin leader was heckled by Fianna Fáil TDs including Darragh O’Brien who said her party had no representation in the North and who claimed Ms McDonald “ran away”.

But Ms McDonald said “it seems that the Tories’ difficulty is Fianna Fáil’s opportunity to run away again from the Irish electorate and to deliver more of the same, more failure and more homelessness, and yet to cry crocodile tears”.

Addressing Mr Martin directly she told him “bravo” and said “that is some kind of stability as described by the soldiers of destiny”.

Summer election

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said an election could be held in summer next year once there was clarity on Brexit.

And he called on both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to release all the documents prepared by public servants for the review talks.

He agreed there should not be an election until there was certainty about what would happen with Brexit. But he said “once we know what type of Brexit we will face there is no reason to further delay an election” and he believed an election could be held in summer 2019.

He said that for full public transparency it was essential to release the documents and provide clarification “on what concessions were made to secure a one year extension of the minority government”.

The Government was clearly failing on health, housing and the provision of broadband.

“Across health, housing, and in the provision of broadband this Government is clearly failing. “The people deserve better than a further twelve months of ‘do little’ Government,” he said.