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COULD THERE BE an election before Christmas?

We’ll be bringing you the latest updates from what is fast becoming a political nightmare, with an election before or soon after Christmas looking more and more likely.

Both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have expressed that they have no confidence in Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald in relation to how she handled a controversy involving garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Fine Gael has said that it is backing her all the way – with no party looking like it is going to back down.

Here’s a quick rundown of the main points so far:

  • Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have both tabled a motion no confidence in former Justice Minister Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald over how she handled a scandal involving Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
  • The current controversy surrounds an email sent to Fitzgerald in May, 2015 in relation to McCabe. You can get a full breakdown and timeline of events here.
  • Following through with this motion will critically undermine the confidence and supply agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, which is integral to keeping Fine Gael in government
  • An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed full confidence in Fitzgerald, and said he will not be asking her to step down
  • Varadkar has given an invitation to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to meet to discuss how to resolve the issue
  • TDs from both parties have said that the confidence and supply arrangement is in jeopardy and that trust between both sides has been seriously undermined
  • Should there be an election, crucial pieces of legislation around social welfare and public service payments would not be passed

Clare Daly says the political relationship between FF and FG is “absolutely over” and that she expects an election in the spring.

Clare Daly of Independents 4 Change has also been speaking to News at One.

The Dublin North TD, who was one of the first politicians to take up Maurice McCabe’s case, says she’s been “gobsmacked” by developments over the last few days.

“We’re not about showdowns, we’re not about drama,” Calleary told the News at One.

He said the confidence and supply agreement had been “tested to the limit” in the last few days but that it wasn’t about declaring winners.

Dara Calleary of Fianna Fáil has been speaking to RTÉ’s News at One. He’s described it as a “sad day” for the Tánaiste and that it’s not about “looking for scalps”.

Asked whether Charlie Flanagan, the current Justice Minister, has questions to answer on the email issue Calleary said that he did, and that he expected the Minister would answer those questions in the Dáil.

Fianna Fáil will not be submitting a motion of no confidence in Flanagan, he said.

With that, we’ll wrap it up. For the rest of the political drama, stay tuned over the weekend.

“I haven’t sought (Frances Fitzgerald)’s resignation, I don’t want her resignation.”

Varadkar says that he’s committed to avoiding a general election.

However, he says that if we’re going to the polls, it will be before Christmas.

It’s going to be hard to pretend you’re not home with the Christmas lights on.

Varadkar says that if the government falls, it will be because of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin carrying out “an execution without trial”.

Varadkar says that it is important that Maurice McCabe gets “truth and justice”.

Asked if he would accept Fitzgerald’s resignation: “I hope that doesn’t arise”. He says that he won’t remove Fitzgerald “for political expediency”.

He calls on the opposition to withdraw their motions and let the Charleton Tribunal finish its work.

“Let’s all calm down a bit.”

Leo is setting out why he doesn’t want an election – Brexit and economic issues – but it sounds very much like his election stump speech.

He says that the case against Frances Fitzgerald is “flimsy”.

The Taoiseach says:

“If we don’t resolve matters by Tuesday and if (Fianna Fáil’s) motion is successful, we will be into an election.”

He says that there is still time for he and Micheal Martin to solve the issues.

RTÉ is showing a montage of the confidence and supply agreement’s 18 months.

More montages than Rocky, tonight.

LEO IS GOING TO BE ON THE NEWS AFTER THE BREAK!

Get set.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to appear on RTÉ’s Six One news shortly.

Minister Michael Ring appears to have forgotten how time works.

Heather Humphreys says she and the public don’t want an election and declines to give a date for it.

She says that seven years ago, the IMF were in Ireland. But that’s not election talk…

The Arts Minister says that the confidence and supply agreement has “worked well”, but is damaged.

She hopes that Fianna Fáil can take a step back.

Cooper is giving Humphreys a serious grilling, here.

Heather Humphreys, speaking on Today FM, says that Frances Fitzgerald “did nothing wrong”.

She says that an election should not be called because of the impacts on Brexit.

Matt Cooper suggests Fitzgerald “take one for the team”, but Humphreys reiterates that she did nothing wrong in handling the email.

What of the Green Party? They just want us all to have a peaceful Christmas.

Not really, they feel an election now would damage Ireland’s hand in Brexit negotiations.

Speaking today, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan TD said: “Whatever the position of each party on the Garda whistle-blower controversy, everyone will agree that an election before Christmas is not in the national interest.

We do not want an election in the middle of the critical Brexit talks, and postponing the motions until the New Year would allow the important work of the Joint Committee on the 8th Amendment to be completed, and allow time to get the Finance, FEMPI, and Social Welfare bills over the line.

“One way to avoid such an ill-timed election would be for Minister Frances Fitzgerald to voluntary step aside. The other alternative would be for both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin to postpone their motions of confidence until the New Year.”

Christina Finn says that Micheal Martin “didn’t look happy, nor did he look sad”.

Hmmmm…

A quick newsroom estimate puts the maximum time the meeting could have run at 27 minutes. Enough time to piece the confidence and supply agreement back together?

This meeting may be the last attempt that either party has to avoid a general election.

The tension is unbearable. The nation holds its breath.

From our political correspondent Christina Finn, who has been chasing the madness today:

A lot of surreal moments from Leinster House today – but highlight so far was during the Labour press conference when Brendan Howlin was nearly drowned out by a hen party on a pedibus singing along to Mambo Number 5 passing by on Kildare Street.

A little bit of Leo in my life, a little bit of Micheal by my side…

The Independent Alliance will meet at 7pm this evening to discuss the issues facing the government.

Shane Ross’s advice? “Grown up men” Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin should talk this out.

Former minister John Gormley reckons Fianna Fáil will folder faster than Superman on laundry day. Purple monkey dishwasher.

Some may disagree that the issue just about an issue, but John Halligan doesn’t think it should bring down a government.

Political points aside, kudos to Halligan for pulling off that turtleneck.

Bookmaker Paddy Power has slashed odds on an election in 2017 from 10/1 to 10/11, meaning it’s as likely to happen this year as next.

It’s not necessarily indicative of anything, but it is interesting.

So there won’t be a Sinn Féin leadership race if there is an election. Will there be one if the election is kicked down the road?

Labour has reissued that earlier press release:

PastedImage-56244

Not as to the point as the last one, but it takes shots at Sinn Féin, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Boxes checked.

On a day of gossip, this seems pretty serious.

How do you feel about politicians calling to your door alongside carollers?

Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar are expected to have their meeting in the next hour.

The Independent Alliance has also held a meeting and it is understood they do not want an election.

We should get a much clearer picture on the whole situation in the next hour or so.

shatter Source: RTÉ

If you thought today’s political madness couldn’t get any stranger, well, you’d be wrong.

There’s now rumours doing the rounds that Alan Shatter is thinking of running in an election as part of the Independents 4 Change group.
Mick Wallace has said he’d be interesting in having a chat with the man despite the pair’s checkered history.

It’s understood that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to meet with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin this evening to discuss the deepening political crisis.

The Labour party releases a simple, to the point, press release about the election fiasco.

fsd Source: TheJournal.ie

Yes, that’s all it says.

Our reporter Christina Finn just had a chat with one of the members of the Eighth Amendment Committee which now hangs in the balance.

They need to get the report done by 20 December and then it could be carried over, they say.

Could there be a conveyor belt of witnesses to get it over the line? Mattie McGrath and Ronan Mullen who have said the matter can’t be rushed would not be in favour of that.

Truth from most who have sat on the committee say they do not want to have to sit through it all again – it’s in everyone’s interests to get it over the line.

The Labour party says it looks like an election is on the cards. It says it could not vote confidence in Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

Labour’s lack of confidence began with Parliamentary Questions put down from Alan Kelly TD. He says many of those questions he has submitted on the issue have still yet to be answered and if there is an general election the questions will be guillotined.

When asked where he is getting his information, he says through working in the Public Accounts Committee he gets to meet a lot of people and get tips.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin says an election now looks to be imminent. His party won’t rule out talking to anyone or any party, stating that they want to increase their numbers. Jovial laughs when leadership issues were raised, with Howlin stating they are a united party who want to maximise their seats. ‘Hear hear’ says Alan Kelly.

In relation the confidence and supply agreement, Paschal Donohoe told the News At One has been dealt an “exceptionally serious blow”.

Donohoe also refused to rule out Leo Varadkar going to the Áras to dissolve the Dáíl.

Paschal Donohoe said that the tribunal is the proper mechanism to discuss all allegations regarding misconduct in the Maurice McCabe scandal.

Paschal Donohoe is on RTÉ News At One and says that there needs to be a Government in place to deal with Brexit negotiations.

I expect that Taoiseach and Micheal Martin will engage on this matter. The main reason I do is that it’s very likely the future of this island will be central in European and British politics. So, at a time when issues and decision which need to be made which will reverberate for decades to come, the prospect of no government in place to deal with challenges and opportunities is unconscionable.  These are historic decisions.

In news breaking this afternoon, it has emerged that Fine Gael has just called for an emergency meeting of the party’s executive council.

Our political reporter Christina Finn gives her thoughts on the current political turmoil:

“The feeling from Fianna Fáil is that if Fitzgerald steps aside this is salvageable – in terms of as much as the confidence and supply agreement appears to be dead in the water they believe it is fixable if she goes, with one TD stating that they think the government could then carry on to the next Budget, though many would think that is pie in the sky talk.”

90321527_90321527 Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Fianna Fáíl’s Timmy Dooley has said that it  is very clear we have reached an impasse.

Speaking to journalists this afternoon, he said it is clear this government has allowed a “sustained attack” to take place on the character of Maurice McCabe.

“Over that time Leo Varadkar as minister and subsequently as taoiseach and the Tanaiste then then minister for justice told us how favourably disposed they were to Maurice McCabe and holding him in such high esteem, but it is now clear that at that same time Frances Fitzgerald was publicly declaring a massive amount of support for Maurice McCabe.

“Over that time Leo Varadkar as minister and subsequently as taoiseach and the Tanaiste then then minister for justice told us how favourably disposed they were to Maurice McCabe and holding him in such high esteem, but it is now clear that at that same time Frances Fitzgerald was publicly declaring a massive amount of support for Maurice McCabe.

“No for me those two positions are not sustainable – that on the one hand you believe absolutely in Maurice McCabe and on the other hand you think the commissioner is worthy of your public support while knowing that she is using a trumped up charge against him and for that I think Frances Fitzgerald has to account for herself for allowing that to happen, to allow the mechanisms of the State continue to grind down on Maurice McCabe and his family. That is the Frances Fitzgerald position – it is about Maurice McCabe and how Frances Fitzgerald treated him with all the knowledge she had.

“It is a bigger issue now – it is a matter for Leo Varadkar who made his mark as a straight talker calling out Alan Shatter on Maurice Mccabe, he now needs to call out Frances Fitzgerald.

“It is a matter for the Taoiseach to decide – is he going to stand by Maurice McCabe or is he for politics standing by Frances Fitzgerald and the Fine Gael party.

File Photo Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he has confidence in Frances Fitzgerald. End. Source: Leah Farrell

Like many of us, you may be scratching your head and thinking:

What is going on and how on Earth did we get here?

Well lucky for us, my colleague Sean Murray has put together a nifty explainer and timeline with all the most salient points.

Take a look.

Micheál Martin said that he did not want an election, but that Fitzgerald had to go.

He said he was open to meeting with Leo Varadkar again to discuss the issue over the weekend.

It’s also been reported that Leo Varadkar has issued an offer to Martin to meet and discuss the issue.

He said that an election being called would not undermine Ireland’s Brexit position and that he was “strongly aligned” with the government position on Brexit.

Martin denied that his party would not be at fault if an election was called, and that the issue was bigger than party politics.

“It’s not about Micheál Martin, it’s about something that core to very citizens in this country,” he said.

He said finding out about Fitzgerald and the email was “the final straw for many within the party”.

There’s a big failure here to stand by the character of Maurice McCabe,” he said.

To allow state agencies to assassinate [his character].

He repeated many times that he did not want an election, but that his party was ready to contest one.

“If an election happens, so be it, and we’ll have to contest it,” he said.

He also said he believed that Fine Gael were acting as though they wanted an election,

Micheál Martin says that Fianna Fáil has tabled the motion of no confidence in Frances Fitzgerald.

Speaking on RTÉ, Martin said that he had met with Leo Varadkar privately on Wednesday to express that he had no confidence in Fitzgerald.

He said that Varadkar had not gotten back to him, and Martin said he then text the Taoiseach.

He said that the Taoiseach told him that Fitzgerald had done nothing wrong.

“My patience has been stretched on this issue,” said Martin.

He said the “fundamental change” on the issue was that he had never known that Fitzgerald had known about efforts by ex-Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s legal team to undermine Maurice McCabe’s credibility during the O’Higgins Commission.

Fitzgerald said that she was not made aware of these efforts until they became public knowledge. Martin does not accept this.

“The Tánaiste should step aside in our view and that would avoid a general election,” he said.

Our reporter Christina has been speaking to Fianna Fáil front benchers just out of the party meeting.

The motion of no confidence has gone before the Dáil.

Senior member of the frontbench says Varadkar will have to go to Áras an Uachtaráin today if he wants an election on 16 December.

The frontbench is adamant there will be no January election. If there is one it will be in December.

The only way the motion will be withdrawn is if Frances Fitzgerald resigns.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty has said that crucial pieces of legislation around social welfare and employment payments are now “in limbo”.

Speaking on RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Doherty said that the Social Welfare Bill and crucial Fempi legislation may not be passed if the Dáil dissolves.

The Finance Bill which brings into effect crucial elements of the Budget, the Social Welfare bill which brings into effect €5 increases in payments will be in jeopardy.

As will crucial Fempi legislation around public sector pay increases.

Doherty mounted a strong defence of her party colleague Frances Fitzgerald, saying that she had done nothing wrong.

Doherty said that Fitzgerald had acted appropriately in relation to the May 2015 email as it had dictated that she take no action, and she was legally precluded from taking any action.

“Can we come back from the brink please of whatever this particular row is over,” said Doherty.

This stopped being about Frances Fitzgerald days ago. This is about Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

Doherty said that Fitzgerald did not know about any efforts by former Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s legal team to undermine McCabe’s credibility.

She said the email did not notify Fitzgerald of this.

“I’m asking publicly on the airwaves for Fianna Fáil to step back,” she said.

Doherty said that if Fianna Fáil tabled the no confidence motion, then the confidence and supply arrangement would effectively be finished.

The people have spoken.

Well, by “the people” I mean just over 2,000 of our readers.

In our morning poll, we asked:

Would you welcome a general election in the next two months? 

poll

So far, 58% said they would not. While this is a clear majority, a significant 37% of people said that they would.

So there you go.

More from Christina, who has met some lone Fine Gael TDs wandering the halls of Leinster house:

One TD said that this email should not be a reason to have an election.

“If we turn up at their doors at Christmas and say it was over an email, they will be very very angry,” they said.

They said discussions will have to take place over the weekend and maybe Fianna Fáil will be able to appeased.

They suggested that perhaps a root and branch review similar to that taking place in the gardaí could take place in the Department of Justice.

Perhaps split the department into Home Affairs and Justice as a matter urgency – that might satisfy FF, but I just don’t know.

“Pressure is mounting on the Tánaiste hugely,” they added, pointing out there is apparently a poll coming out on Sunday – depending on public support, it could make her reflect and step aside, but she is definitely not going to be pushed.

Another Fine Gael TD said if they move ahead with the motion the confidence and supply is over – but that they don’t see how they can row back on it now.

Our political correspondent Christina Finn is in Leinster House, where she says it’s quiet, too quiet.

From Christina:

It’s Friday in Leinster House – a time when most TDs have gone home to their constituencies and despite the furore on the radio waves this morning about an election the place is very quiet.

Is it a case of TDs heading off with nothing to worry about? Or are they dusting off the canvassing boots back home?

So, let’s not get anymore ahead of ourselves, but IF the confidence and supply arrangement is breached, and IF the government falls it will be bad news across the board for a variety of reasons.

Not only will it mean an election before Christmas or in early January, there are a number of serious issues still to be handled by the current Dáil.

  • First, Budget 2018 hasn’t been properly legislated for yet and wouldn’t be if the Dáil dissolved
  • Second, the Eighth Amendment committee would dissolve with its work unfinished, effectively leaving any future referendum in doubt
  • Third, there is a crucial Brexit meeting in Brussels on 14 December. Ireland’s negotiating position will be undermined if it has no proper government in place

And that’s not including the sheer amount of legislation that still needs to pass through the Dáil and the prospect of TDs calling to our houses on Stephen’s Day.

Micheál Martin is due to speak to RTE’s Sean O’Rourke after 10am.

We’ll bring all the updates live as he speaks.

Meanwhile, some astute political analysis here from MP Ian Paisley Jr.

Heading into the Fianna Fáil party meeting, Timmy Dooley said that the government was continuing the same policies directed against Garda whistleblower Maurice Mccabe.

Meanwhile, Stephen Donnelly said the problem could be easily resolved if the Tánaiste just resigned.

Easy, right?

screenshot-2017-11-15-at-13-43-04

Aside from the storm engulfing Frances Fitzgerald, current Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan is caught up right in the middle of this, although not a lot of the focus is on him right now.

Yesterday, it emerged that Flanagan had been told by Justice Department officials about the discovery of the email at the centre of the controversy on 13 November.

Despite this, he allowed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to tell the Dáil the following day (last Tuesday, 14 November) that the Justice Department had no knowledge of the approach by gardaí to undermine McCabe’s credibility during the O’Higgins Commission.

He also didn’t inform the Taoiseach of the email’s discovery, allowing Varadkar the next day to again tell the Dáil that the department did not know of the garda approach.

During this bout of Leaders’ Questions (on Wednesday, 15 November) Flanagan interrupted the session to accuse Labour’s Alan Kelly of launching a “smear campaign” against him.

Here’s the video of that heated exchange:

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Flanagan’s questionable behaviour has led to speculation that he may yet become the centre of the issue, if Fitzgerald does or does not step aside.

calleary-3

Before Coveney spoke, Fianna Fail jobs and employment spokesperson Dara Calleary had strong words from across the political divide.

He said that the confidence and supply arrangement between the two parties “depends of trust and trust is being eroded in this issue”.

Calleary seemed somewhat more conciliatory, saying that “there’s a long way to go until Tuesday”, when the Fianna Fáil motion would be debated in the Dáil.

But he said that his party has “no confidence in Frances Fitzgerald’s ability to continue”.

He framed the issue as having two main points – first, he said that Fitzgerald had “failed in her duty to whistleblowers” in relation to the email she received in May 2015.

Second, he said that Fitzgerald had failed in her duty to the Taoiseach, in allowing him to mislead the Dáil in relation to what the Justice department knew about efforts to undermine McCabe’s credibility.

“We don’t feel there is a need for a general election on this issue,” said Calleary, saying that a compromise could still be reached.

Very strong words by Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney on Morning Ireland.

Says that the Fianna Fáil motion of no confidence is “politically opportunistic” and that Leo Varadkar is “not going to abandon his Tánaiste”.

“They don’t want to wait for due process,” he said, referring to the Disclosures Tribunal which is investigating allegations of a smear campaign against Maurice McCabe.

Instead they want to take a political opportunity to damage  the Tánaiste and the Government.

He said Fianna Fáil were leading the country to an election, “at a time when it is not in the national interest to do it”.

Coveney said that Fine Gael needed “to stand for something here” and would not bow to pressure.

“Mistakes were made but they’re not resignation issues,” he said.

Crucially, Coveney said that if Fianna Fáil tabled the no confidence motion later today, than the relationship between the parties keeping Fine Gael in power is over.

If they move ahead with the motion.. the confidence and supply agreement is over.

So, right now, Sinn Féin has tabled its motion of no confidence in government.

TV3′s political correspondent Gavan Reilly has it here:

Sinn Féin was granted speaking time on this for next Wednesday.

Not to be outdone, Fianna Fáil has decided to table its own motion of no confidence in Fitzgerald. This will get precedence over the Sinn Féin motion, and will be debated in the Dail next Tuesday

Fianna Fáil TDs are due to meet at 9.30am this morning to discuss the motion. It’s likely that it will then be put before the Dáil later today, then debated next Tuesday.

Let’s try to explain this a bit more clearly:

There have been numerous political controversies in relation to Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe and how he was treated by the state

Everything centres around how much the Tánaiste did or didn’t know about an attempt by the legal team of former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’sullivan to discredit McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission.

The O’Higgins Commission was looking into allegations of Garda malpractice in the Cavan/Monaghan division, made by McCabe.

It was revealed by RTÉ last year that former Commissioner  O’Sullivan’s legal team had been instructed to “challenge the motivation and credibility of Sergeant McCabe” during the O’Higgins Commission.

tribunal-716_90518767-2 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

(Don’t forget: How McCabe was treated and whether there was a smear campaign against him is the subject of the Disclosures Tribunal, which began in March and is currently underway)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil last week that Fitzgerald was not aware of this until “after the fact, around the time it entered the public domain”.

However, since then, an email has surfaced that was sent to Fitzgerald in May 2015, while she was Justice Minister.

The email concerns a row between McCabe’s and O’Sullivan’s legal teams and mentions an allegation that “a serious criminal complaint against Maurice McCabe – which he had always denied – had not been properly investigated by the Garda Siochána”.

This would seem to point to the fact that Fitzgerald knew about O’Sullivan’s legal team’s efforts to undermine McCabe’s credibility in the past.

For her part, she said she did not remember reading or may not have read the email – excuses that haven’t impressed Finna Fáil or Sinn Fein, hence the controversy.

There’s more, too.

The email was found by the Justice Department on 9 November. Current Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was informed of this on 13 November.

However, he allowed the Taoiseach to tell the Dáil that the department had no knowledge of O’Sullivan’s legal team’s approach on 14 and 15 November.

This has prompted much speculation that even if Fitzgerald steps down, Flanagan will be next in the firing line.

So what do TDs think in general across the board of a possible election?

RTÉ News caught up with some representatives as they left Leinster House last night.

“Our bluff hasn’t been called at all we’ve just made it very clear about where we stand as a party and if Fianna Fáil now it’s back to them,” said Fine Gael Td Colm Brophy.

The Tánaiste’s position is quite clear she at all times has done the right thing and I think it’s an incredible position we find ourselves in that we’re willing to pull down a good government that’s delivering over something that is nearly a kangaroo court.

Needless to say, Fianna Fáil didn’t quite agree with this analysis. Seán Haughey – Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Bay North – said:

“It’s not an ideal time but I think that this government was coming to end of the road anyway,” he said last night.

There was a lot of issues swirling around and maybe this was the catalyst but certainly there is an issue of credibility in relation to the Tánaiste.

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said that he didn’t want an election, but that he was ready for one if it was called.

“If it can’t be avoided, so be it,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that Fitzgerald “needs to go”.

He also said that everyone “will welcome an election”.

For once and for all we will have hopefully have a proper government after that will address the issues.

Not so sure about that.

Christmas election, election at Christmas.

We’ll have a poll up in a few hours measuring the public sentiment, but I think it’s safe to say that the prospect of going to the polls this close to the festive season won’t impress a lot of people.

Still though, Fianna Fáil Longford-Westmeath TD Robert Troy is up ealry and already conflating the two:

Fairytale of New York – a song about a dysfunctional relationship that ends in tears. Yep, sounds about right.

Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire is first out of the traps this morning.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said his party was “ready for an election”.

He said that the motion of no confidence tabled by the party was about more than the email.

“First of all I want to dismiss this notion that this is all about an email,” Ó Laoghaire said.

It’s exhibit A of a government that has handled this episode in a dysfunctional… manner.

When questioned over why Sinn Féin has decided to push for a motion of no confidence on this matter, rather than other issues, Ó Laoghaire said:

“We would have brought this government down on their absolute failure to deal with the crisis on housing… their failure to deal with the enormous housing crisis.

“We would happily have brought this government down on their failure on the big issues that are concerning [people].

He said that Sinn Féin has never “wanted” or “supported” the government and tabled motions of no confidence in the past. The difference now was that Fianna Fáil had decided to pull its support.

 

he said he “didn’t believe” there would be an election before Christmas, but that his party was ready for one.

First a quick recap:

Fianna Fáil is due to table a motion of no confidence in Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald this morning, which will critically undermine the confidence and supply arrangement it has with Fine Gael which allows them to remain in power.

Fitzgerald has been in the firing line all week, in relation to how much she knew about a campaign by former Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s legal team to discredit Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe during the O’Higgins Commission of Investigation.

It emerged recently that Fitzgerald had received an email in May 2015 which highlighted a row between Commissioner O’Sullivan and McCabe’s legal team.

Fitzgerald has said that she likely did not remember the email as it said she did not need to take action at the time.

However, her defence has not impressed the opposition, with Sinn Féin yesterday publishing a motion of no confidence in the government and Fianna Fáil set to table one today.

Fine Gael and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reaffirmed its commitment to Fitzgerald at a party meeting last night, and so here we are.

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