Micheál Martin signals that pact could be agreed for post-Easter general election next year

Micheál Martin signals that pact could be agreed for post-Easter general election next year

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has signalled that a pact could be agreed for a post-Easter general election next year, at which point there will be a “clear cut off point” for the lifetime of the current Dáil.

The suggestion will again prompt questions about whether Mr Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar should sit down and formally agree a general election date.

Mr Varadkar's spokesman this evening would only say that the Opposition leader had rejected the Taoiseach's previous proposal-made last year-for an election date pact. Instead, Mr Martin at the time linked the lifetime of the confidence and supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to Brexit.

Mr Martin in recent weeks indicated that the two party leaders could settle on a timetable for an election date for next spring.

Amid mounting speculation there could be a snap poll in November, Mr Varadkar was forced to tell his Fine Gael ministers that his preference was still for an election in May next year.

He ruled out an immediate poll given Brexit was still unresolved and that Britain had its own election next month.

“I don’t think it is the right thing for the country, not with the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit,” he said. “We don’t know what is going to happen on the 12th of December.”

But speaking earlier today on Newstalk, Mr Martin pushed the matter further by suggesting a specific end to this Dáil next year, potentially by the beginning of April.

“You are looking at April, May, it seems to me at this stage. The Easter recess is a clear cut off point in terms of the lifetime of the parliament. You are into E-day then onwards in terms of when the actual election date of the election will be.

“It is very clear to me on the doorsteps that people are angry. The health situation, 117,000 children waiting, 30,000 for over 12 months for a specialist outpatient appointment. The housing and the health shame are everywhere. We need a change in government to get those issues dealt with.”

Mr Martin's spokesman said he believed a specific date would be agreed for a general election in 2020, but not until the New Year.

Mr Varadkar's spokesman reiterated that a pact on an election date had been offered last year to Mr Martin, but that it was rejected.

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