Outgoing Minister for Training and Skills John Halligan has said that if there were to be another general election this year Fine Gael could win up to 10 extra seats.
“If I was Fine Gael I'd go back to the country - they're high in the opinion polls, I think Leo Varadkar is doing exceptionally well, and I think Simon Coveney is probably the best Minister for Foreign Affairs we ever had, Paschal Donohoe, Heather Humphreys and so on ...
“They lost a number of seats by less than 1%, I'm convinced Leo Vardakar is doing a good job, I'm not here promoting Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or the Greens, I think if Fine Gael went back to the country they would at least gain another seven or eight seats, maybe 10,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show.
“If you want my honest opinion, I'll be devoured for saying this, I regularly speak to people from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and so on, Fianna Fáil can't stand Fine Gael essentially and Fine Gael can't stand Fianna Fáil essentially, none of them can stand the Green Party so what's this all about?
They're going to form a government that nobody wants. The people of Ireland didn't want Fine Gael and to be fair to Fine Gael and the Taoiseach and Paschal Donohoe, they wanted to go into opposition, this is not what they wanted.
Somebody has to form a government, he added.
Mr Halligan said one Cabinet Minister has agreed with him when he expressed this opinion, but he did not think it was top of the agenda. “It should be, they're trying to get out of this lockdown, they're trying to get back to work, they're stressed, they're under severe pressure, it's not a huge big issue.
“If I was in Fine Gael I would try to get to the end of August, see how we're going with the lockdown, can we get out of this some way reasonably well and they would have been in government doing this and I think I'd go to the country.”
Mr Halligan also said that the system where he was still a Minister even though he had not stood in the last election was wrong.
“I'm still a Minister of the new government, not by choice. I had hoped to retire and go. I still have a job to do as Minister, I would prefer not to be.
“I wasn't aware when I decided not to stand again, that you would have to stay on. I was of the view that senior Ministers would have to stay on and I was told by the Department that as I am a junior minister I still have to deal with research and development - with what is associated with my position.
“My view would be that if you don't stand and you're not elected then you should go and be done with it, I'm not in a position to do that, because I'm still being paid as a Minister. I have to do what I'm being asked to do.
“We certainly need a government in situ, before you form another government, but I think it should be made up of the senior Ministers, the civil servants, the Taoiseach and maybe the main ministers - Health, Education, Foreign Affairs, Finance.”