Fine Gael has said its wants Fianna Fáil to agree to a two-year extension to the confidence and supply deal to allow the Government remain in office.
The current arrangement is due to expire after October’s budget and there is little appetite in Fianna Fáil to extend the deal, as it is consistently behind Fine Gael in the polls.
However, following the weekend’s result in the abortion referendum, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty called on the main Opposition party to extend the deal in the national interest.
The deal should be extended not just to allow the abortion legislation to pass through the Dáil and Seanad but also to address external issues such as Brexit, she said.
“We want a stable government for Ireland, not just because of this issue but because of all the issues, Brexit and gender equality,” said Ms Doherty. “We have a long list of social and economic changes that we want to be part of. We need a strong and stable Government, we currently have one, notwithstanding the intricacies of what is a minority government.”
Ms Doherty said that while the concept of ‘new politics’ attracts much criticism, it is working and should continue.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has repeatedly ruled out any talk of extending the deal before the budget but Ms Doherty called on him to sit down with her party as early as the summer.
“We want the confidence and supply deal to be extended for two years and we would call on Fianna Fáil to sit down with us and talk during the summer,” she said, while also ruling out a snap election: “I can categorically say no to you; our job is to get the legislation passed and passed as quickly as we can.”
However, some of Ms Doherty’s Cabinet colleagues said her remarks about a two-year extension were not fully reflective of the Government’s view.
They said they see little chance of the deal being extended.
“There is no desire clearly within Fianna Fáil to allow this continue, it is now all about how we break,” said one minister.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously said he did not wish to see the deal between the two parties “drop dead” the night of the budget, and reached out to Mr Martin to extend the talks.
Mr Martin yesterday said he and his party are committed to facilitating the third Budget.
He did not foresee the prospect of a snap election, adding that he would like to see the abortion legislation passed through the House before the Budget.
“I have been clear I want to facilitate a third Budget which, of course, takes in the Finance Bill and the Social Welfare Bill so I think it is well within our remit to get this passed,” he said.
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