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Micheál Martin urges Varadkar to give 'certainty' and says end of April is 'logical time' for election

The Fianna Fáil leader also claimed that the Northern Irish assembly will be back up and running by 13 January. “Mark my words,” he said.

Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said that Easter is the “natural end” of this current Dáil and called for the Taoiseach to provide a “sensible” timeline on the next general election.

Speaking to Gavan Reilly on Newstalk’s On The Record programme this afternoon, Martin said that “clarity and certainty” was needed from Leo Varadkar on the matter.

It comes after the Sunday Independent reported today that the Cork South-Central TD has written to the Fine Gael leader seeking to strike a deal on the date of the next general election.

“I don’t think it’s credible we reconvene after Easter,” Martin said. He added that there were a number of Bills – such as one on online transparency legislation and another on medical disclosure – that could be passed in the 34 days that the Dáil will sit between now and Easter.

Martin said: “They’re practical things that can be done if the government wants to… My point is that if there was a bit of leadership shown and say “here’s the date”. Let’s get a sensible timeline to this. The end of April is logical time for an election.”

He said that without a clear timeline on when the next election would be held, it would mean some TDs could engage in “short-term, tactical manoeuvring”. 

Martin added there was no point reconvening the Dáil without a clear election date.

Speaking yesterday, the Taoiseach said there will “not necessarily” be a general election held in February next year, saying reports with this date are “speculation”. 

“My preference has always been for a summer election but that may not be my call,” Varadkar said. 

Votegate and Northern Ireland

Martin was also pressed on the matter of “votegate”, the controversy that emerged when it was revealed Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins had pressed the voting button of his colleague Timmy Dooley in the Dáil six times in one session. 

Lisa Chambers as well as Barry Cowen were also caught up in the matter, and it’s understood Chambers was to be issued with an official warning for her involvement in the controversy from the Dáil Committee on Members Interests.

Martin said he has yet to speak to Chambers or Dooley on the latest controversy, and said that the Taoiseach “is doing everything he possibly can to deflect” attention away from the Dara Murphy expenses controversy.

“He has not faced up to the moral issue,” Martin claimed.

The Fianna Fáil leader also commented on the recent Westminster elections and what it meant for Northern Ireland.

He criticised Sinn Féin on several occasions, and said it was clear to him when he was canvassing in Derry that people want to get the Northern Irish assembly back working. 

“It’s palpable up there,” he said. “That’s why the executive will be restored, mark my words. By 13 January, the executive will be back up and running, and the assembly will be.”

Martin added that he didn’t believe that now was the moment to be talking about a United Ireland, despite the electorate in Northern Ireland electing more nationalists than unionists to Westminster for the first time. 

“There’s a framework for people to decide it [within the Good Friday Agreement,” he said, adding that Sinn Féin has “driven” the push for a border poll and that it is a “reckless” strategy that would cause more division within communities.

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Sean Murray

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