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Election 2016.2

Some people aren't at all happy about this tweet from Leo Varadkar

The Health Minister has been accused of undermining Fine Gael’s ongoing government talks with independents.

LEO VARADKAR HAS been accused of trying to destabilise Fine Gael’s ongoing talks with independent TDs on the formation of a minority government after tweeting a picture of his election posters.

The Health Minister yesterday tweeted a picture of his posters which he said are “cleaned, counted, stored and ready to be deployed”, indicating to many that he is ready for a second election if a government cannot be formed.

The tweet comes amid ongoing talks involving Varadkar’s party and independent TDs. The tweet has drawn responses from a number of them overnight, including Roscommon deputy Denis Naughten.

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said the tweet showed that Varadkar is “far from committed” to the discussions.

“There is more than an element of childish play-acting about this tweet which goes contrary to the seriousness of the approach that many of us have adopted,” he said.

McGrath said the tweet gave the impression that Varadkar is now trying to “destabilise the process for his own political gain” citing a weekend poll which showed that the minister would be a more popular leader of Fine Gael than Enda Kenny. McGrath added:

Putting the idea out there that you are ready and prepared for another general election, and in some sense even welcoming that idea, is in my view a political misjudgement that can only damage the entire process.

Fianna Fáil has also had a pop, with Meath East TD Thomas Byrne pointing out that Varadkar should have been at the Irish Medical Organisation annual conference in Sligo.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics last night, Fianna Fáil TD and negotiator Charlie McConalogue said the tweet was evidence that Fine Gael is “trying to push independents into a position to say to them there is no other choice”.

He said this “smacks of the type of arrogance we saw – and the public refused – in the election”.

Varadkar dismissed suggestions that the tweet amounted to mind games, telling the same programme:

I don’t think anybody wants there to be another election. I am not sure another election would produce a different result, but if there is another election certainly Fine Gael isn’t afraid of that.

The Dublin West TD said he hopes that it does “not come down to that”.

Fine Gael’s talks with independents are continuing today. The party will meet the Independent Alliance at 2pm today and a further meeting with all 15 non-aligned deputies it has been holding talks with will take place at 6pm.

Fianna Fáil is also meeting independent deputies over the course of today and tomorrow ahead of the Dáil vote to elect a Taoiseach on Wednesday.

Read: New poll shows more than twice as many people want Martin as Taoiseach over Kenny

Read: Enda and Micheál need to stop “pussyfooting” and talk properly – Fitzmaurice

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