Martin writes to Taoiseach proposing they 'both agree not to bring down government' until Brexit resolved

Latest: Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has written to the Taoiseach telling him that it would be best that they "both agree not to bring down the government".

Mr Martin said that they should state upfront that they are in agreement "in light of recent developments and as we head into this critical period on Brexit...irrespective of what happens during the Confidence and Supply review process".

Mr Martin also encouraged Leo Varadkar to agree on passing the Budget Finance Bill and other legislation at least until a Brexit agremeent has been reached by the UK and the EU.

"The Irish people would, I am sure you agree, be rightly concerned at any risk that a general election campaign would have on these talks at such a crucial period and an uncertain post-election situation," he wrote.

He said that an election during this "critical time would create a dangerous instability during a period when the Brexit deal could be derailed by the constantly changing situation in Westminster".

The two leaders were in contact this morning and have both agreed to meet next week.

Mr Martin said he is available to discuss the contents of the letter further with him if he wishes.

Naughten disputes claim Taoiseach only told of additional meetings yesterday

The former Minister for Communications has disputed a claim made by the Taoiseach that he only told him about additional meetings with David McCourt yesterday morning.

Denis Naughten stepped down from his role at the cabinet table yesterday after it was revealed he met businessman David Mc Court in private, multiple times.

Denis Naughten has claimed that Leo Varadkar knew all the details of his meetings with the broadband bidder.

Speaking to Shannonside, the ex-minister said he informed him on Wednesday night.

"There is no reason for me not to be open and frank with the Taoiseach," said Deputy Naughten.

"I felt he needed to know that and I rang him on Wednesday night and informed him of that."

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Simon Harris has defended the role of junior Minister Pat Breen in the Communication Minister's resignation.

Pat Breen

Junior Business Minister, Pat Breen admitted to facilitating one of the private dinners which Deputy Naughten attended.

Simon Harris says it is a Minister's responsibility to ensure all engagements are appropriate to attend.

"Denis Naughten made the decision to attend that dinner, Denis Naughten had a decision making power, Minister Breen had no decision making power," said Minister Harris.

"Pat Breen is not a member of the Cabinet, he is not bound by the collective responsibilities that we all have as Cabinet ministers.

"He has no role when it comes to procurement or the contract."

Simon Harris added that as Minister's they are invited to lots of functions, but it's their responsibility along side their team to decided if its appropriate for them to attend.

Regina Doherty: Nobody wants an election except Fianna Fáil

The Social Protection Minister insists it is still possible to keep the minority government in office.

It follows the resignation of the Communications Minister Denis Naughten, who has vowed to support government policy on a case by case basis.

Regina Doherty

Mr Naughten's resignation has raised doubts over the future of the National Broadband Plan and the Government.

Minister Regina Doherty says she does not believe people want an election.

"I know how difficult it is to keep a minority government together but I know it's not impossible," said Minister Doherty.

I genuinely believe in my heart that nobody wants an election with the exception of Fianna Fáil.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil remains focused on delivering on issues rather than the political drama in the Dáil.

That is the message from the Party's Deputy Leader Dara Calleary.

Deputy Calleary says Fianna Fáil has been serious about implementing the Confidence and Supply Agreement and will focus on issues.

"We have been deadly serious since May 2016 about implementing this agreement," said Mr Calleary.

"We are deadly serious about keeping the issues that affect people in their daily lives ahead of the drama, ahead of newspaper sales etc.

"We want to deliver on those issues."

Dara Calleary

'Hard to say' if snap election on the way, says FF TD

The future of the government and the National Broadband Plan looks in doubt after the resignation of the Communications Minister.

Denis Naughten stepped down yesterday after controversy over meetings he had with a businessman involved in the bid for the broadband licence.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "Ceann Comhairle, sometimes there are days when I have to make decisions that may cause deep personal distress to others but are necessary for the good of the country and today is one of those days."

Sources said Mr Naughten's story about how many times he met businessman David McCourt had changed a number of times.

Mr McCourt is heading up the last remaining bidder for the National Broadband Plan contract, and it was revealed yesterday met then Minister Naughten for private dinners four times.

Deputy Naughten insists he has to meet investors as Minister, and that is how business is done.

He believes the pressure on him to resign was more about PR than practicality.

"If I was a cynic, which I'm not, I would believe the outcome is more about opinion polls than telephone poles, more about optics than fibre optics," Mr Naughten said in his speech announcing his resignation as minister.

Minister Richard Bruton has been appointed to the communications brief on a temporary basis.

The shock resignation has left questionmarks looming over the future of the National Broadband Plan, and the government itself.

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley says it is hard to say if there will be a snap election.

"Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will sit down to review the confidence and supply arrangement to look to whether or not it's possible to put in place a new arrangement," said Deputy Dooley.

"That's going to play out over the next number of weeks so we'll see where that goes but for sure the government have lost some of their members.

"So their numbers are getting tighter."

Digital Desk


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