Varadkar suggests February election would be ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’ for opponents

Taoiseach says Dáil will reconvene next week

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave little away in response to questions on the general election date when he spoke to media ahead of a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party in Dublin. Video: John Cassidy


The Dáil will reconvene on Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking on his way into a Fine Gael meeting on Friday, he also said “if there is any change in that I will let you know”.

His comments come after speculation on Thursday that the Dáil might not return at all after the Christmas break. On the timing of an election on potentially the 7th or 14th of February, Mr Varadkar said: “It could be the love of the people, and hopefully a Valentine’s Day Massacre for our opponents.”

Mr Varadkar also said he believes he has enough support to defeat a vote of no confidence in the Minister for Health Simon Harris that is expected to be tabled on February 5th.

The motion is being tabled by the Rural Independents group, and the Government could be defeated if it loses the support of a handful of key Independents.

“I think we will have the numbers for that actually. I’ve lost count of the number of confidence motions that have been put down over the last couple of years,” the Taoiseach said. “They’re all defeated, and they’re largely done so that individual members of the Opposition or particular Opposition parties can get some airtime, and that’s the game and they’re playing it, fair enough, but let’s not take it too serious.”

The Government has in the past been reliant on the support of Independents such as Noel Grealish, Michael Lowry and Denis Naughten.

Mr Varadkar said he would “think over the weekend” about consulting these Independents.

He also said he will consult Independent Alliance and Independent Ministers over the weekend about a potential election date.

“The Cabinet will meet on Tuesday, the Dáil will reconvene on Wednesday, and if there is any change in that I will let you know,” the Taoiseach said.

“When the time is right for an election, it should be at the right time for the country, not necessarily the right time for any political party or any particular politician,” he said.

“And when you’re in politics, you always have to be prepared for an election – at the same time you can always be better prepared for election, but that’s not what matters.

“And I think sometimes when people rush into decisions they may get the accolade of being decisive, but they actually make the wrong decisions, and before I make a decision I always consider all the options and all the facts,” Mr Varadkar said.

The Taoiseach said his preference is for an election in the summer because the weather is better but “that is a personal preference”.