"No reason" for government to fall within six months

However, political correspondent Fiach Kelly said it will give Fine Gael a window to discuss leadership of the party

The Maurice McCabe controversy is placing the future of Government in balance – will we have an election by the end of this year?

On Newstalk Breakfast, The Irish Times' political correspondent Fiach Kelly said there would be "no reason" for the government to fall within the next six months. 

However, he also said there may be a move against Taoiseach Enda Kenny to step down as party leader when he returns from his St Patrick's Day visit to Washington.

"The feeling very much is the Taoiseach will go to visit President Trump on St. Patrick's Day, but once he comes back, people will want to see movement," he said. "If there isn't any movement, there may be a move against him.

"TDs looked a general election in the eye over the last few days, and got really frightened at the prospect of Enda Kenny leading into that election [...] They realise that they have to change leader."

Damage control

Mr Kelly said the story has developed at an unprecedented rate from the get-go, but the focus for the government is now focused on the survival of the government.

"Once Maurice McCabe and his wife released that very strong statement yesterday evening in which they made it abundantly clear they would not accept the Commission of Investigation, it became inevitable that we were heading towards a public inquiry."

 

Katherine Zappone

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said yesterday that she told Taoiseach Enda Kenny of a Tusla link to the Maurice McCabe case before the Cabinet meeting last week.

"I said that I had met with the McCabes, that we had discussed allegations, that allegations were part of Tusla and that was the nature of the conversation […] That was before the Cabinet meeting," she said.

A government spokesperson said that the Taoiseach was not aware of the details, or of the “very serious and disturbing issues” that arose at this meeting.

On Katherine Zappone's position in the scandal, Mr Kelly said: "Once Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no confidence in the government Saturday night, it became an issue for the government as a whole. It would have been a lot trickier for Katherine Zappone if they'd tabled the motion of no confidence in her."