Spare the country an election and go, says Fianna Fáil

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald could spare the country an unnecessary general election if she resigned, Fianna Fáil said yesterday.

Several of the party’s leading figures led the call for her to stand down in the national interest, as they no longer have confidence in her, given her mishandling of the Maurice McCabe email saga.

Their calls come as party leader Micheál Martin travelled to Dublin last night to meet with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in a bid to stave off an election.

The party’s spending spokesman, Dara Calleary, told the Irish Examiner that the choice is one for Fine Gael and for Ms Fitzgerald to put the country first.

He said the core issue at stake was that “Frances Fitzgerald did not do her job right”.

The Mayo TD said the current stalemate between his party and Fine Gael is because parliamentary questions put down by Labour’s Mr Kelly were not answered.

Mr Calleary said: “The fact that we’re doing this trawl now after a tribunal was set up, after a tribunal demanded information, that the Government still aren’t confident that the tribunal has all the necessary information is exactly why we’re here.”

Meath East TD Thomas Byrne told RTÉ his party was expecting to receive all the documents uncovered by the trawl carried out in the Department of Justice over An Garda Síochána’s legal strategy at the O’Higgins commission.

Mr Byrne said it is still the position of his party that the Tánaiste’s resignation would end the political crisis.

“That is our position,” he said. “When we put down a motion we do not do it willy nilly. This is about the lack of information given to the Dáil in relation to this issue last week. This is not a motion in the Government, this is not a motion which causes a General Election. This is a matter for the Taoiseach to resolve.

“What my leader is doing is trying to work out some resolution which brings answers to the questions posed and also to the political crisis which is the threat of an election.

“The two leaders have the space to try and resolve this, but this is a serious matter.”

Mr Byrne called for the documents made available to Fianna Fáil that had not been given under pain of law to the Disclosures Tribunal and said it is unbelievable that they were only found following a trawl of documents in the wake of the ongoing political crisis.

“The one thing ministers need to function is the confidence of the Dáil. Frances Fitzgerald does not have the confidence of Dáil Eireann and she should go,” said Mr Byrne.

Meanwhile, several Fianna Fáil TDs have denied that they were part of a group of TDs who cheered a TV broadcast in the Dáil bar during which justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said they would not vote confidence in Ms Fitzgerald.

Cork TD Billy Kelleher, Mayo TDs Dara Calleary and Lisa Chambers, Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte and Sligo TD Marc MacSharry have all denied cheering at the broadcast, despite being named as present in the bar at the time.

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