Varadkar and Martin agree to talks on confidence and supply

Teams of four senior TDs from either party are expected to participate

 Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin speaking to media on the plinth at Leinster House, Dublin on Monday.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin speaking to media on the plinth at Leinster House, Dublin on Monday.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin have agreed to open negotiations to review the confidence and supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil next week.

The two leaders met for an hour on Monday afternoon for a pre-arranged meeting in the vicinity of Government Buildings.

They agreed to appoint negotiating teams this week, with a view to opening talks next week.

While the three-year confidence and supply agreement is now nearing its end, Mr Martin wrote to the Taoiseach last week proposing that neither party collapse the Government until Brexit negotiations reached a conclusion.

While the Taoiseach initially suggested a new agreement, or an extension of the current one, could be achieved by the end of October, this has been categorically ruled out by Fianna Fáil. While no timescale has been forwarded, the Government can last until March in the absence of a new confidence and supply agreement, as the Westminster vote on withdrawal is not expected until then.

Teams of four senior TDs from either party are expected to participate in the negotiations which, if successful, will prolong the term of this Government by at least another year.

It is expected that housing and the National Broadband Plan will be the key issues, and the biggest potential stumbling blocks for a successful outcome.

Speaking to reporters outside Leinster House on Monday, Mr Martin said his proposal for no collapse of government during Brexit negotiations was a reasonable offer that had been borne out by events.

“We enter in good faith into the confidence and supply review . . . It has to be a substantive review and it has to be detailed.

“I will enter that in good faith and in a constructive way in the same way we negotiated three budgets under confidence and supply. I think our record should be taken on board in regard to that,” he said.

He said when he spoke to Mr Varadkar last week, both had agreed there would be no preconditions.