Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Independent Alliance have spoken about aiming for a second term in government together, writes Political Correspondent Juno McEnroe
Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath says there is a new “energy” in the Government under Mr Varadkar but admits he has threatened to walk out several times since entering power.
In a candid interview with the Irish Examiner, the Independent Alliance member confirmed a second term has been discussed and he thinks the current coalition will last four to five years.
“We talk about it generally, yes. The Alliance and the Taoiseach. If Fianna Fáil don’t make up the numbers, there’s a very good chance that is going to happen.”
Even if the combination was different after the next general election, Mr McGrath believes there are other Independents waiting in the wings who would help cement a second Fine Gael-Alliance term. “And maybe if the Independent Alliance didn’t get the five but they would be in the frame.
“He [the Taoiseach] is generally very open to the idea of doing business with the Independent Alliance in future. And he regularly says to us. We might be short in numbers but we might have to add in other Independents. There are other independents out there who privately regret not going into Government.”
In the meantime, the Dublin Bay North TD maintains the current coalition may last five years.
“We will be near enough I’d say. In my head, I’d be thinking four years, but it could go the five years. Because I can’t see Fianna Fáil [who support the Government] pulling us down over something that is not particularly relevant.”
“It’s not very popular being in Government. And you’re up for loads of criticism and you get hammered every day. If I can get nine or 10 things done while I’m Minister, I’ll be absolutely delighted. I’ve already got four or five over the line. I’ve a few other things to get done,” said the minister, highlighting the planned emergency unit at Beaumont Hospital as well as spending on disabilities.
Mr McGrath admitted he had threatened to quit the Government on issues including the Stardust review, disability funding, and the new €40m Beaumont unit.
But the Cabinet under Mr Varadkar was a changed place, he said.
“There is a new energy in the room and the Taoiseach has a great knack of dealing with diversity and dealing with differences,” added Mr McGrath.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved