Belfast Telegraph

Leo Varadkar: Fine Gael and Fianna Fail pact could go on beyond 2018

The support pact between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail could be extended beyond 2018, the Taoiseach has said.

Leo Varadkar said the confidence and supply deal should not be allowed to "drop dead" after the budget and that he intends to discuss the issue with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin next year.

"Confidence and Supply runs until the Budget, which will be October of next year. I think at a certain point, we will have to have a conversation.

"It is as you know an agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail so at a certain point we will have to have a conversation," said Mr Varadkar.

He added: "Built into (the agreement) is a review and potentially it could be continued and I certainly see no reason why it can't be continued beyond the third budget."

The Fine Gael leader insisted that he would not like to see the agreement "drop dead" the day after the budget.

"That wouldn't be in anyone's interest and it would not be in the best interests of the country certainly to have a government on budget night with confidence and supply agreement but not the day after.

"So I imagine that conversation will be had at some stage next year but it is not a conversation I have had yet with Micheal Martin so I probably should have it first," said Mr Varadkar.

The support pact was badly shaken earlier this year following a series of issues in relation to the Department of Justice.

The Government was brought to the brink of collapse until former justice minister and Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald agreed to resign amid concern over her handling of allegations against Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

When quizzed by reporters about Mrs Fitzgerald's future in politics Mr Varadkar refused to say if she could be a potential future presidential candidate for Fine Gael. But he did say that she could return to a senior government position in the future if one should become available.

"There's no vacancy at the moment. We'll see what the president decides to do. I still hold Frances Fitzgerald in very high regard. I'm not planning a cabinet reshuffle but I certainly don't think for a second that she's somebody who is debarred from holding high office in the future," he said.

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