Taoiseach wants guarantee Fianna Fáil will back Govt in any confidence vote

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wants a guarantee that Fianna Fáil will back the coalition in any Dáil confidence vote because of “dissidents” in the opposition party.

Taoiseach wants guarantee Fianna Fáil will back Govt in any confidence vote

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wants a guarantee that Fianna Fáil will back the coalition in any Dáil confidence vote because of “dissidents” in the opposition party.

Mr Varadkar has also dismissed a suggestion by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin that there should be an orderly wind down of the Dáil in any new pact on agreeing a general election date for the New Year.

In remarks to journalists in an end-of-year interview, Mr Varadkar said he would shortly respond to Mr Martin's letter, which suggests the two parties agree new terms to hold the election after Easter next year.

Mr Varadkar reiterated that he would call an election at the right time for the country.

“That may not necessarily be in the interests of me or in the interests of my party as some of my party colleagues tell me all the time,” he said.

The two leaders would meet in the New Year, he said.

But he added: “There are two reflections that I would have on that [the letter]. The first is that Deputy Martin continually uses this phrase that there needs to be an orderly wind down of the Government and the Dáil.

"I don’t believe a government should ever be wound down or the Dáil should ever be wound down.

“What I don’t want to see is a three or four month election campaign and the Dáil and the Government effectively focusing on that rather than focusing on the business of Government and the problems that people face in their everyday lives."

The second concern about Mr Martin's request, he said, concerned “the realpolitik of the arithmetic” in the Dáil.

There is much speculation that another confidence motion will be moved against the government, possibly early in the New Year and over health.

Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said he would vote with such a motion, which would go against the confidence and supply agreement between the two parties, a pact that keeps the coalition in power.

Mr Varadkar suggested his counterpart should consider if any extra vote against the government from within Fianna Fáil would be covered by someone from within his own party.

He added: “I would need the assurance from Micheál Martin that actually has the support of his party for this and if he is going to have dissidents in his party that go against the whip that he will be able to provide people who counterbalance perhaps that by voting with us on motions rather than abstaining.”

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