Fianna Fáil to pick candidates as Dáil deal falters

A senior Fianna Fáil TD has warned Fine Gael its actions in Government are risking early general election as backroom party officials confirmed Fianna Fáil is preparing to select candidates in key election constituencies.

Finance spokesman Michael McGrath made the comment as he said that the fallout from the Máire Whelan affair means “the trust is definitely damaged” between both parties.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme, Mr McGrath said the reality is that the controversy over Ms Whelan’s appointment to the Court of Appeals “breached” established legal practice.

“The trust is definitely damaged and at the core of it is the fact that the Government proceeded with a judicial appointment that breached the established practice of 22 years,” said Mr McGrath.

“It then compounded that, in my view, by rushing through the formal appointment of Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeals, with the Taoiseach making it known he was available the following morning, the Monday morning, for the formal appointment.

“That is what is at the essence of this [dispute].

“We can’t afford for any more examples like this to emerge or else inevitably we will be moving towards a general election if that [further clashes] were to take place.

“We don’t believe it’s necessary. We believe the Government should focus on governing. And we certainly want to see progress now on many of the measures set out in our confidence and supply arrangement.”

While Mr McGrath’s comments follow a number of warnings from senior Fianna Fáil TDs over the past year about how Fine Gael’s actions in Government risk breaching the confidence and supply deal and causing a snap general election, they are likely to be seen as more serious due to the recent promotion to Taoiseach of Leo Varadkar amid claims his relationship with Micheál Martin is “putrid”.

In addition, backroom Fianna Fáil officials confirmed the party is already planning general election candidate selection conventions from early next month, once the Boundary Commission report is published.

While the Cork South Central constituency of Mr Martin and Mr McGrath is likely to be among the first announced due to the publicity it will receive, officials said areas where no Fianna Fáil TD currently exists will be the main focus.

This is because of the need to ensure name recognition in the months before an election, which remains at risk of happening later this year.


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