Simon Coveney says Fine Gael is ‘election ready’

Party will not stay in Government without clarity on confidence and supply deal

Tánaiste Simon Coveney  at the opening ceremony of the 79th Fine Gael Ardfheis. Photograph: Donall Farmer/The Irish Times

Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the opening ceremony of the 79th Fine Gael Ardfheis. Photograph: Donall Farmer/The Irish Times

 

Fine Gael is “election ready,” Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said as he warned that his party would not stay in Government without clarity on the future of the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil.

He said he was not taking the outcome of talks with Fianna Fáil for granted. The two parties are currently engaged in negotiations about an extension of the agreement to keep the minority Government in office until June 2020.

But asked if the party had its election posters prepared Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said “they’re not printed but the printing presses are well oiled and ready”.

Mr Coveney said the party would like a scenario where it could provide certainty for the next 18 months.

Speaking to media as Fine Gael launched its latest political programme at its ardfheis in Citywest, Co Dublin, Mr Coveney said “you cannot run a Government working week to week and month to month not knowing whether you have stability in the context of crucial votes in the Dáil”.

“That’s why these negotiations are serious in terms of trying to provide stability for another relatively short period of time.”

He said “we would like to set a date in June 2020 if we can do that. But of course that is something that has to happen between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.We don’t take the Confidence and Supply for granted.”

Mr Coveney said “it is a period of time that is very important for Ireland where big decisions have to be made, particularly in the context of Brexit”.

He pointed out that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had said over the summer that he would like to agree a date for the next election.

“We also will not stay in Government without clarity in terms of the Confidence and Supply Agreement,” Mr Coveney said.