The war of words between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over the confidence and supply agreement has prompted the Taoiseach to rule out calling a snap general election.
A spat over the government support pact is continuing, fueling criticisms from both parties.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said yesterday he wants to lead the country but blamed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for the mounting election talk.
“If he wants an election, let him call an election,” said Mr Martin.
“He should not try and create spurious grounds for it or try and undermine a party that has upheld its side of the agreement in terms of the confidence and supply.”
Disagreement is focused on whether talks to extend the agreement should take place before or after October’s budget.
In Brussels yesterday, Mr Varadkar reiterated that Fianna Fáil is undermining the agreement by recently considering to support a confidence motion against Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, as well as threatening not to agree the budget.
“We have seen Fianna Fáil displaying mixed messages in the past number of weeks, despite Micheál Martin’s claims to the contrary,” Mr Varadkar told reporters.
He and other ministers want to nail down an extension of the government support pact before budget talks.
“We really need to know from them, sooner rather than later, whether they’re committed to the confidence and supply agreement long- term, because it’s not possible to govern in the interests of the people, to do our jobs as ministers if we don’t know week to week, month to month, whether the Government is going to survive or not,” added Mr Varadkar.
Speaking on Newstalk Radio, Mr Martin said he wanted to be Taoiseach. He said the claims about Fianna Fáil giving out “mixed messages” about the budget or agreement were “false”.
“It seems to me that he [Mr Varadkar] wants to create the grounds to justify going to the country,” said Mr Martin. “If he doesn’t, he should say that. There’s too much megaphone diplomacy, it is all about the optics, it is all about the spin.”
Responding in Brussels, Mr Varadkar ruled out calling an early election.
Earlier, ministers warned that early talks to extend the confidence and supply agreement were needed.
Health Minister Simon Harris accused Fianna Fáil of engaging in “partisan attacks”, adding: “The confidence and supply agreement will come to an end this year, therefore it is timely to have that conversation in due course at a time that the Taoiseach believes is right, with the opposition to decide what happens next. You cannot have a situation where the country falls off a cliff in terms of government.”
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