Fine Gael must facilitate a Fianna Fáil led Government from Opposition should Micheál Martin's party win more seats, Dara Calleary has said.
Mr Calleary said concluding a 'Confidence and Supply' deal has delivered a great deal of political stability for the country during the Brexit chaos, and should the election see Fianna Fáil return with more seats, then the deal should be reciprocated.
“Since the Brexit equation came into politics in Ireland, Confidence and Supply has given stability. That stability is still important, important to deal with the negotiation of a new Brexit deal. So, after next election, the stability of the country can be at the heart of any discussions, I think if they're interested in stability, they should provide us with that stability,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Mr Calleary defended the decision of his leader Micheál Martin to rule out any return to the party's front bench for TDs Niall Collins and Timmy Dooley, who were demoted following voting irregularities in the Dáil.
He showed leadership. He didn't have to be dragged into this. It wasn't an easy decision for us, for him because he's worked closely with Niall and Timmy.
"They are two good colleagues and valued colleagues. But, you know he thought a statement had to be made and it was made,” he said.
Mr Calleary said his party is ready for a February election, even if his party leader would prefer if it took place after the Easter recess in late April or May.
He said Fianna Fáil enjoyed a successful 2019 at local and European level as well as winning two of the four by-elections held in November.
Mr Calleary, a Mayo TD since 2007 and former junior finance minister, has been tasked, since becoming Micheál Martin's deputy leader, with organising candidates across the country and making sure they are election ready.
He was director of elections for the local elections where he delivered significant gains, particularly in Dublin. He names three sitting councillors – Mary Fitzpatrick in Dublin Central, current Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe in Dublin North-West and Cormac Devlin from Dun Laoghaire – as three who performed strongly and look set to win new seats for the party in the capital.
In terms of his leader, Mr Calleary says the two men have “different strengths” but that they work well together. He accepts that they held different views on the abortion issue, with Mr Calleary being pro-life whereas Mr Martin advocated the Government's position to liberalise the laws.
“We would have different views on one issue, but on most things we are on the same page. We have different ways of doing business, but it works well,” he said.