Harris says election likely unless Fianna Fáil extend Confidence and Supply deal

Harris says election likely unless Fianna Fáil extend Confidence and Supply deal
Simon Harris speaking at the Fine Gael conference today. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Health Minister Simon Harris has joined the chorus of Fine Gael ministers who have threatened a general election unless Fianna Fáil sign up to a deal to extend the life of the minority government.

He called on Fianna Fáil to stop delaying Confidence and Supply talks, warning the current deal has only days left to run.

Mr Harris, speaking at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis in CityWest, said the “snails' pace” of the ongoing talks between the parties is no longer tolerable and a conclusion must be arrived at.

“What could plunge the country into an election is if people don't recognise that Confidence and Supply deal that expires in a matter of days,” he said.

“For quite a while now, Micheal Martin has been debating with himself as to when it ends but what is clear, it ends when all the budget issues are passed. We are within days of the Finance Bill concluding its passage through the Oireachtas.

"So within a number of days the Confidence and Supply deal will be no more unless it is replaced with something else,” he said.

“As a party, the Taoiseach has been leading our effort to getting engagement on this reality and it was always 'sure we will wait until next week' when we asked Fianna Fail.

We exchanged letters and we have Micheal saying please don't write to me, please do not Tweet me. It is going on and on and on.

“Lads we are standing here now and it is November. The Finance Bill is going to pass very shortly. I want to know and the people want to know does this Government have an ability to continue,” he added.

“We need that certainty, we are in an environment where political stability is badly needed. We do not want an election. But we won't continue in office without knowing whether we can get on with our jobs,” he said.

He hit out at Fianna Fail's Brexit spokeswoman Lisa Chambers, accusing her of “sniping” at the Government in relation to the Brexit deal, agreed between the EU bloc of 27 and the British Government.

“Rather than the sniping and the criticism from the sidelines, these talks need to get on with and need to be concluded,” he said.

Ms Chambers had criticised the Government for being overly triumphant on Wednesday night in the wake of the agreement being reached on Brexit.

Ms Chambers, speaking on RTE Radio 1, cited criticism from ex-Fine Gael minister Lucinda Creighton who said the tone taken by the Government was “inappropriate”.

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