An Irish general election in the mouth of Brexit would not have been in the country’s interest, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
Renewal of the main opposition party Fianna Fail’s confidence and supply parliamentary arrangement with Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael-led administration ensures Ireland avoids a poll in the months around the UK’s planned EU exit.
It entails support for legislation implementing next year’s budget and enables the fragile minority coalition Government to operate for another 12 months.
It is my strong view that we have work to do, around Brexit, around protecting the economy, securing people's jobs and making more progress in areas like health and education and that is my focus as TaoiseachTaoiseach Leo Varadkar
Mr Varadkar said: “Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael understand the existential threat that Brexit [poses to] Ireland and both parties believe that an election at this time would not be in the country’s interest and I don’t think the public would thank either party for causing an election at this time.”
They agreed to deliver on commitments made earlier this year for Budget 2019.
The Taoiseach added: “Also they [Fianna Fail] had some particular legislation being put forward by some of their spokespeople which they would like to see enacted and we have agreed to work with them on that.”
He said he could not guarantee an election would not be called next year, but it was not his intention to precipitate one.
He added: “It is my strong view that we have work to do, around Brexit, around protecting the economy, securing people’s jobs and making more progress in areas like health and education – and that is my focus as Taoiseach.”
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said it was in the national interest to have political stability as Ireland faced the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
Extending FG+FF Confidence +Supply deal into 2020 is right decision for the Country + will allow Govt to plan comprehensively through 2019 for #Brexit +other Govt priorities. Both parties have acted in the national interest at an important time when political certainty is needed!— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) December 12, 2018
The historic pact between two parties founded from opposing sides of Ireland’s Civil War of the 1920s was struck following an inconclusive 2016 general election.
It lasted for three budgets.
Following the third and final budget in October, negotiating teams from both parties engaged in talks aimed at securing an extension.
Our decision to maintain stability over the next 12 months will not be universally popular, but it is the right one. Ireland simply cannot afford the sort of political chaos weâre seeing in Britain at this critical time. Iâm satisfied it is the right decision for the country 🇮🇪— MicheÃ¡l Martin (@MichealMartinTD) December 12, 2018
The renewed deal will last the duration of 2019. The country will go to the polls in early 2020.
Criticising the performance of the government, Mr Martin said his party had reached the decision reluctantly, but he said it was “unavoidable” given the concerns posed by Brexit.