Leo un­der fire for ‘talk­ing up’ prospect of an early elec­tion

FF: ‘Stick to con­fi­dence and sup­ply’

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By James Ward Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent james.ward@dai­ly­mail.ie

FIANNA Fáil’s fi­nance spokesman has hit out at the Taoiseach for talk­ing up the prospect of a ‘cliff edge’ end to the Gov­ern­ment’s con­fi­dence-and-sup­ply deal with Fianna Fáil.

Michael McGrath said Leo Varad­kar should stick to the agree­ment and stop try­ing to stoke up talk of an elec­tion.

‘It’s the Taoiseach re­ally that has been talk­ing up a cliff edge, who has been men­tion­ing the word “elec­tion” and so on,’ he said.

‘We’re a party that en­tered into this agree­ment in good faith, in the na­tional in­ter­est, to pro­vide sta­bil­ity for our coun­try at a dif­fi­cult time.’

He added: ‘The third Bud­get is a crit­i­cally im­por­tant part of the con­fi­dence-and-sup­ply agree­ment. We would make the point that there is no cliff edge here.

‘The agree­ment pro­vides for a third Bud­get and then a re­view of the agree­ment be­fore the end of the year.

‘So what we are sug­gest­ing is that we stick to the agree­ment that has been en­tered into.

‘We will cer­tainly al­low the time and space re­quired fol­low­ing the agree­ment, hope­fully, on the third Bud­get in or­der to re­view the con­fi­dence-and-sup­ply agree­ment at that stage,’ said Mr McGrath.

The con­fi­dence and sup­ply deal that un­der­pins the Gov­ern­ment pro­vides for three bud­gets, the third of which is this Oc­to­ber, with a clause that pro­vides for re­newal there­after.

But re­cently Mr Varad­kar has sig­nalled he wants the deal ex­tended be­fore the next Bud­get, and could call an elec­tion if he doesn’t get his way.

Asked this week if a fail­ure to rene­go­ti­ate an agree­ment ahead of the Bud­get was grounds for an elec­tion, the Taoiseach failed to rule it out, say­ing: ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.’

Af­ter weeks of tak­ing pot­shots at each other in the press, Mr Varad­kar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin will sit down to dis­cuss is­sues such as con­fi­dence and sup­ply and the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions next week.

But the talks are al­ready on shaky ground amid what Fianna Fáil per­ceive as elec­tion grand­stand­ing by Fine Gael.

Mr McGrath said if the TaoiFine seach were to call an early elec­tion on the ba­sis that pre-Bud­get talks are not go­ing well it would be ‘a com­pletely un­nec­es­sary and over-the-top re­ac­tion.

‘He is the per­son who has brought this is­sue into the pub­lic do­main in re­cent weeks with­out pick­ing up the phone and talk­ing to Micheál Martin,’ he added. Gael has sig­nalled it will push for tax cuts for mid­dlein­come earn­ers in the up­com­ing Bud­get, some­thing Fianna Fáil is open to.

But the scope for tax re­lief will be lim­ited as Fianna Fáil in­tends to press for in­vest­ment and tar­geted mea­sures to tackle the cost of liv­ing.

The con­fi­dence-and-sup­ply agree­ment al­lows for the Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Charge to be re­duced but re­quires the Gov­ern­ment to ob­serve a 2:1 ra­tio of spend­ing hikes to tax cuts.

Mr McGrath has in­sisted Fianna Fáil will give the Gov­ern­ment the time and space to im­ple­ment the next Bud­get, if it is agreed, and re­view the deal af­ter that.

Fianna Fáil is cur­rently per­form­ing badly in opin­ion polls and the party would not want an elec­tion this year.

Fine Gael’s stronger poll show­ing is giv­ing the Taoiseach the up­per hand in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

‘There is no cliff edge here’ ‘An over-the-top re­ac­tion’

Varad­kar: Pot­shots

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.