Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar disappointed over Fianna Fail snub for talks to extend agreement

The Fine Gael leader said he will keeping asking Micheal Martin to meet to thrash out an extension to the three-year deal.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he is ‘disappointed’ after the leader of Fianna Fail turned down a request to hold talks on extending the Confidence and Supply agreement.

The Fine Gael leader said he will keeping asking Micheal Martin to meet to thrash out an extension to the three-year deal, which ends next month.

Hours after Mr Varadkar published a letter to Mr Martin on his Twitter page, the opposition leader rejected the request saying that he will discuss the process after the Budget is set in five weeks.

Mr Varadkar said that an agreement to extend the deal now would “remove political uncertainty” ahead of the Brexit negotiations.

Speaking in Inis Meain in Co Galway on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said he was disappointed by the speed at which his request was turned down.

“It’s all there in black and white for people to read asking that we remove the uncertainty that exists at the moment on when an election will be held,” he said.

“[Asking] that we have political stability for the Brexit negotiations and through to Brexit itself, that we agree that there not be a general election until the summer of 2020 and that we agree a
set of achievable goals that can be delivered by Fine Gael and Independents in government between now and then.”

He added that he is less interested in tone and substance of Mr Martin’s reply letter, adding that Fianna Fail accuses his party of “spin and tactics and leaks”.

He added: “I decided to be very transparent to write a letter to Micheal Martin, to put it all down in black and white and after five days to publish it so that people could read it for themselves.”

Leader of Fianna Fail Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

He denied accusations that he was rushing and panicking, saying that it was “prudent” to seek a deal before the agreement ends in five weeks.

“I think it’s something we should have done months ago and I think it would have been easier to do it in fact during the recess when you’re in a less politically charged atmosphere,” he continued.

He also denied trying to create a general election, adding that government of Fine Gael ministers and Independents staying in office for another two years could achieve in terms of the economy, tax, welfare payments, pensions, living standards infrastructure, housing and healthcare.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar reiterated his backing for current President Michael D Higgins ahead of the Presidential election in November.

There are 11 people vying for a spot on the ballot paper, and the Taoiseach said that while he welcomed people putting their names forward, he will support Mr Higgins.

He said: “It’s a brave thing to do, to put your name forward for election, to agree to put your name on a ballot paper.

“So I’d always have respect for anyone who has the courage to do that. But it’s very much my view and the view of Fine Gael that President Higgins has done an excellent job as President representing
us abroad and at home and we’d like him to have a second term.”

He added that the presidency being subject to Freedom of Information was a constitutional issue, but said that it isn’t something he is ruling out.

Press Association

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