Belfast Telegraph

No prospect of a general election anytime soon, Tanaiste insists

Simon Coveney and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are keen for an extension to ‘confidence and supply’ deal with Fianna Fail.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has ruled out the prospect of a general election in the immediate future.

Despite speculation the confidence and supply arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail will not be extended beyond the next budget, Mr Conveney insisted Ireland would not be back at the polls “anytime soon”.

He was speaking at Stormont where he had a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley about the region’s political crisis.

When quizzed by the media about the possibility of an election in the Republic, Mr Coveney said: “I don’t see any prospect of a general election in Ireland anytime soon.”

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Earlier in January Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin played down calls by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to keep the minority Fine Gael government in power for a fourth year by renegotiating the confidence and supply agreement.

He said he would not be giving the Taoiseach “a blank cheque beyond and beyond”.

Under the confidence and supply deal, Fianna Fail agreed to facilitate the passage of three budgets but left open the possibility of extending this to five following a review.

In December Mr Varadkar said he could see “no reason” why his minority Government should not be allowed to continue beyond October’s budget.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Fine Gael leader said the deal with Fianna Fail should not be allowed “to drop dead”, and he did not see “why it can’t be continued beyond the third budget”.

Mr Coveney has also expressed his hope for the agreement to go into a fourth year.

He recently said: “I don’t think it is good for the country to have an unnecessary election in the middle of a Brexit negotiation and in the middle of trying to get on top of a housing crisis.”

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