Varadkar denies his Ministers are ‘swaggering around the place’

Taoiseach rejects claims of complacency by Minister of State Finian McGrath

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has denied his Fine Gael colleagues were "swaggering around the place" as suggested by Independent TD Finian McGrath amid speculation of a September general election.

"Not to my knowledge," he told reporters on a visit to the United Nations in New York. "My Ministers are extremely busy doing their jobs."

In response to the comment by Mr McGrath, a Minister of State, that there should be a presidential election this autumn to challenge the “cosy consensus” in Irish society,” Mr Varadkar said it was up to every political party and independent TD to make a decision to support a candidate.

“It’s a democracy,” he said.


Fine Gael would make a decision when President Michael D Higgins makes an announcement on whether he will be nominating himself for a second term in the coming weeks.

“We think the respectful thing to do is to wait to do that before making a decision ourselves,” the Taoiseach said.

He refused to be drawn on the speculation around an election, saying that he has been “extremely busy” in the past couple of weeks “doing the people’s business” and his focus was “very much on the business of government.”

Mr Varadkar said he believed it "makes sense" to extend the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil that is keeping the Fine Gael minority government in power.

“We are heading into a period of uncertainty and instability, and the best way to resolve that and avoid that is to extend the confidence and supply,” he said.

“As I have always said I will in the first instance to speak to the leader of Fianna Fáil and I will do that in due course.”

As the US embassy prepares for a second Fourth of July celebrations under President Donald Trump without a US ambassador in Dublin, the Taoiseach said that the Government would welcome the appointment of an envoy by Washington but "absent that" the Government would still be able to conduct day-to-day normal relations with the US chargé d'affairs Reece Smyth.

Meanwhile, in Limerick, Minister for Finance Pachal Donohoe said Fine Gael will make its position known on President Higgins after he declares his intentions.

“I think President Higgins has done an exemplary job in representing our country abroad, and, in terms of how he has conducted himself as President.”

“But, first we need to hear from him first about what his intentions are, and then I think, as a party, we’ll be able to consider what our intentions will be in relation to that approaching election, if such an election takes place.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times