Varadkar and Martin to meet over support deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are to meet later this month in a bid to extend the confidence and supply deal.

Mr Varadkar has said he intends speaking to Mr Martin in the “coming weeks” in a bid to extend the life of the Government.

The Irish Examiner understands a meeting between the two party leaders is due to review the progress of the deal, which sees Fianna Fáil facilitate the Government from opposition.

Speaking in New York following several days of exchanging blows with Mr Martin over when a general election will be held, the Taoiseach has given his strongest indication to date that talks will begin sooner rather than later.

Fianna Fáil has been strongly resisting calls to get into talks early, saying it will only consider it in the wake of October’s budget.

Nonetheless, Mr Varadkar said he will reach out to Mr Martin in the “coming weeks”.

At the New York Stock Exchange, he said: “We are in contact quite regularly, our advisors speak every week. We speak every month either on the phone or on the margins of Dáil exchanges.”

“My view is that we need political stability, particularly as we head into Brexit negotiations, brexit happening for real, and I would like to see the confidence and supply arrangement extended.

“You know, I will talk to Micheál Martin in the coming weeks, but I think it is important I speak to him first and not through the media.”

Mr Varadkar would not say if this meant before the Dáil rising later this month.

Meanwhile, Independent Alliance ministers are to press the Taoiseach to speed up implementation of the programme for government amid fears of a snap general election. 

Transport Minister Shane Ross and alliance members met yesterday in Leinster House.

They are fearful that the row over extending the agreement could prompt an election as early as the autumn and want to ensure their commitments in government are fulfilled.

Mr Varadkar also said ensuring there is no border with the North after Brexit is more important than trade considerations.

He was asked was trade more important than the border issue, but the Taoiseach was clear.

“The issue of avoiding a hard border is about much more than money, it is about much more than trade, ” he said.

Asked if the Revenue Commissioners are scouting potential border checkpoint locations as part of detailed contingency planning, he was adamant they are not.

“No, and if they are they certainly are not doing it at the direction of government and if they are they can stop,” he said. 

“We are not contemplating a physical border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, that is simply not going to happen.”



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