Taoiseach eyeing up May 2020 general election date

Taoiseach eyeing up May 2020 general election date
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with his Parliamentary Party during the Fine Gael parliamentary meeting at the Garryvoe Hotel in Cork.. Picture: Dan Linehan

Leo Varadkar has marked May 2020 as his prepared date for the next General Election.

Speaking to party members at the pre-Dáil think-in in Ballycotton, Co Cork, the Taoiseach said that May of next year would be "the right moment" to go to the country.

"It will allow to us to complete a full parliamentary session in the new year, discharge our Government duties around St Patrick’s Day and the March European Council and have a new Government in place well in advance of the next summer recess.

"We should also, by then, have secured a Brexit Deal or have guided the country through the worst of No-Deal. Though timelines, when it comes to Brexit, are unpredictable," Mr Varadkar told the private Fine Gael meeting.

Mr Varadkar also confirmed that the party is only aiming to win one out of the four upcoming by-election seats.

Four Dáil seats were vacated by Fianna Fáil Billy Kelleher, Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald and two Independents 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly following the European Elections in May.

Mr Varadkar told his Fine Gael colleagues that the months ahead will be busy, citing Brexit, the budget and the matter of four by-elections.

Winning by-elections is very difficult for Government parties. It has only happened three times in 35 years. But it can be done.

There are four by-elections and only one of the four seats was held by Fine Gael.

"We should aim to win one and get the equivalent of something close to a Dáil quota for each of them so that our candidates will be in a strong position to take a seat when the General Election comes."

Mr Varadkar added that he would need the full support of the party to secure one by-election seat.

Fine Gael has selected Verona Murphy to contest the Wexford by-election, Colm Burke was selected as the candidate to contest the Cork North Central on Wednesday night while candidates have yet to be chosen in Dublin Mid-West and Fingal.

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