‘Two or three years’ for coalition, says Junior Minister

An outspoken junior minister predicts that the Government will only last “two or three years”, despite no election being officially planned until 2021.

Junior minister for skills John Halligan made the claim as he warned the Taoiseach Enda Kenny that if there is “any attempt” to remove Transport Minister Shane Ross from cabinet, he will also pull out of the Government.

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio, Mr Halligan said he and other Independent Alliance TDs want the current Coalition to last, despite continuing friction with Fine Gael.

However, asked to predict how long the Government will survive, he said “two or three years”.

“This has been difficult for some of us,” he said.

“I come from a left-wing background.

“If we pull together, if we ensure everybody is treated with fairness and dignity it will last. I think it will see the two or three years.”

The comment comes just days after Mr Kenny said he expects a general election to be held in 2019. He ruled out an election next year, raising the prospect that any change in the Fine Gael leadership may not take place until the end of the decade.

Asked about the issue late last week, Mr Kenny said he is “not even contemplating an election, there won’t be one for three years”, a view he repeated later by saying there will be no election next year.

Meanwhile, Mr Halligan has given a fresh insight into bickering between Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance by claiming he was only told about high-profile launches in his own constituency, just hours before they took place.

Highlighting “teething problems” in the Coalition since it was formed in May, Mr Halligan said earlier this year, Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor took part in a Glanbia event in his Waterford constituency at 9am.

He was the local minister, but had not been informed until midnight before the early-morning event.

“I was either not being informed or being informed very late. I don’t want to use the words [that other ministerial colleagues were] ‘hogging the limelight’, but I had difficulties,” he said.


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