Belfast Telegraph

Early general election would do irreparable damage to Ireland, says minister

John Halligan said an early poll would jeopardise Ireland’s economy and that politicians should put country over party.

A Government minister has warned that an early general election in Ireland could do irreparable damage to the country.

Minister of State for Skills, Training, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan said on Monday that an early poll would jeopardise Ireland’s economy and that politicians should put country over party.

“I don’t think there should be an early election, I don’t believe the public wants one.

“Forming the last government took months; in the midst of Brexit, it would be an outrage.

“It could do irreparable damage to the economy and ruin our standing in Europe if we could not form a government with the complexity of Brexit taking place.

“We should be thinking about what is the right thing to do for the country and not what is right for parties.”

I believe that if we had an election we'd have the same result, with no party coming out on top, and they'd have to negotiate with smaller parties or Independents.

Halligan is one of the Independent Alliance Ministers group due to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Tuesday, where they are expected to ask him to tone down talk of an early election in Fine Gael.

The talks will also include Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe for discussions on the forthcoming budget and the future of the coalition.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has been highly critical of the Taoiseach’s approach to negotiations on the confidence-and-supply agreement and said over the weekend that the time to review the agreement is after it expires.

Mr Halligan warned that those who called for an early election would not be highly thought of by the public.

“Micheal Martin signed up to this agreement for the next budget and he has to stick with that.

“I don’t think he’d be thought very highly of if he brought down the government because he felt that it was the right thing to do for Fianna Fail.”

Halligan added that he believed the major parties were mistaken if they felt they would gain more seats if they held an election in the coming months.

“You’ll always get this in a minority government, parties will feel that if they are doing very well they should call an election.

“I believe that if we had an election now we’d have the same result, with no party coming out on top, and they’d have to negotiate with smaller parties or Independents.

“People have decided now they want a variety of ideologies and parties in the Dail and that’s what politicians have to accept.

“I’d like an election next year or the year after. It would depend on Fianna Fail and the government being objective and putting the country first rather than their own interests,” he said.

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