Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach hopes to feel ‘the love’ of voters with possible Valentine’s Day poll

Leo Varadkar was speaking after discussing potential election dates with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

Leo Varadkar, centre, said he is ready for a general election (Cate McCurry/PA)
Leo Varadkar, centre, said he is ready for a general election (Cate McCurry/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he wants to feel “the love of the people” at the upcoming election while hoping for a “Valentine’s Day massacre” for his political opponents, as speculation mounts about a snap poll.

The Fine Gael leader said while he prefers to have an election in the summer, his party remains ready for any poll.

He was speaking the day after he held an hour-long “constructive” meeting with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin about possible election dates and legislative proposals.

Mr Varadkar also confirmed the Dail will return next Wednesday following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

When you're in politics you always have to be prepared for election Leo Varadkar

He refused to disclose any further details about his discussions with the opposition leader.

“It went well but we agreed to keep it confidential so I’m going to honour that confidence,” he added.

Asked whether he would be ready for a general election early next month, he said: “It could be the love of the people and hopefully a Valentine’s massacre for our opponents.

“I’ve consistently said that 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.

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

“What matters is when it’s the right time.”

Mr Varadkar said “it’s much nicer” to knock on doors and meet voters in sunny weather during summer election campaigns, but added: “That’s a personal preference. What really matters is when it’s the right time for the country.

“I think I’m somebody who is decisive. I make decisions when it comes to Brexit, for example.

“I think sometimes when people rush into decisions, they may get the accolade of being decisive but they actually make the wrong decisions.

“Before I make a decision I always consider all the options and all the facts.”

Meanwhile, with Health Minister Simon Harris facing a motion of no confidence next month, Mr Varadkar said he believes he will have the numbers to win that vote.

Health Minister Simon Harris is facing a vote of no confidence in the Dail (PA)

The group of independent rural TDs, including Michael Collins and Mattie McGrath, will support the no confidence motion, meaning Fine Gael could struggle with numbers.

Speaking ahead of Fine Gael’s party meeting in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said: “I haven’t had a chance yet to speak to any of the other parties or the independents, I’ve been very focused on the situation in the north, and also working with Mr Harris around hospital overcrowding and trying to get that down – and it has come down over the last couple of days.

“Obviously over the weekend I will have the chance to consult with Independent Alliance and independent ministers.

“I think we will have the numbers for that actually, I lost count of the number of no confidence motions that people have put down over the last couple of years.

“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 they’re playing.”



From Belfast Telegraph