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Social Democrats Leader Holly Cairns Leah Farrell/
Posters at the Ready

Opposition leaders call for general election after Varadkar's sudden resignation

Varadkar’s shock announcement has prompted widespread calls for the country to go to the polls.


OPPOSITION PARTIES ARE calling loudly for a general election after Leo Varadkar’s sudden resignation this afternoon.

Varadkar is stepping down as the Leader of Fine Gael and as Taoiseach of the country, though he intends to continue to act in the role until a new Taoiseach is elected in the Dáil.

The coalition parties – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and the Green Party – appear publicly to want to see out the end of their five-year term in Government, but the opposition are demanding that a general election is called.

Sinn Féín, Labour, the Social Democrats, People Before Profit and other opposition politicians have resoundingly called for the future of the country’s leadership to be put to the poll.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that it is a “critical moment in Irish politics” and that the decision of who will run the country next “must be placed in the hands of the people”.

“Today’s announcement can have only one conclusion  – the calling of a general election,” McDonald said.

She said that “another Fine Gael Taoiseach is not what people want” and that the coalition has “run out of steam and run out of road”.

“It is the people, and not Fine Gael, who should decide who leads the country,” Ivana Bacik of Labour declared.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Bacik called the move “deeply destabilising”, adding: “I think it’s utterly untenable that we would see this government continue.”

“Fine Gael are proposing that they should decide who the next Taoiseach is, that members of Fine Gael should decide that, but patently, at a time of such unprecedented challenges, particularly in housing, it is the people, and not members of Fine Gael, who should now decide who leads the country through these challenges,” the Labour leader said.

“We need to see a change of government, not a change of Taoiseach. What we see now is a government that has run out of schemes and run out of ambition.”

Leo Varadkar announces resignation-36_90701647 Leo Varadkar announcing his resignation, flanked by Fine Gael ministers Leah Farrell / Leah Farrell / /

Social Democrats Leader Holly Cairns wrote on social media that the “writing is on the wall for this government, even the Taoiseach can see that”.

“They’re failing on so many fronts. In housing, health, climate – the list goes on and on and on,” she said.

“A new Fine Gael Taoiseach isn’t going to fix that. We need a new government. We need an election.”

Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit said he believes the public has lost confidence in the government and want to see a general election.

“What people want is a resolution to the things the government have failed them on, particularly the really disastrous housing crisis, desperate situation, our health service, the failure on issues like special needs and disability,” he said.

“The government should accept that it is time for the people to decide who will be the next government and give them the option of a different approach to solve the problems that people really care about in this country.”

Boyd Barrett said: “The timing of the Taoiseach stepping down to me suggests a government that are not terribly confident in their ability to convince people that they can solve the very acute problems that are causing such hardship for people in this country. If they were confident, I don’t think he’d be stepping down.”

He said the next Taoiseach “shouldn’t be an internal decision for Fine Gael”.

“Let’s put it up to the people now because the problems we’re facing in this country are just too serious.”

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