Independent Alliance warns against fresh elections

The party claimed it issued the warning in support of comments made by Micheál Martin

Independent Alliance warns against fresh elections

File photo of members of the Independence Alliance, 10-10-2017. Image: RollingNewst

The Independent Alliance has warned the Government against calling a fresh General Election in the near future.

In a statement the group said it is “imperative there is stability in Government while talks enter a critical phase in the Brexit negotiations.”

In an unusual move, it said it had issued the warning in support of the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

A spokesperson for the group said: “The last thing that the people want to see is another period of political instability and the Independent Alliance supports the comments of Mr. Martin who is seeking to reach agreement on a third budget and possibly extend the confidence and supply agreement beyond that.”

It follows a heightening of tensions between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over the past week.

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed Fianna Fáil had been “sending a lot of mixed messages” about the agreement insisting the party was “openly talking” about supporting a no confidence motion in the Housing Minister last month.

“This month they are talking about not voting for the budget,” he said.

On Newstalk Breakfast this morning however, Deputy Martin insisted his party has been very clear about its position.

"I've made it clear since last February that we wanted to fulfil the confidence and supply agreement, and we wanted to contribute to a third budget,” he said.

"It seems to me [the Taoiseach] wants to create grounds to justify going to the country - if he doesn't, he should say that and stop this messing about."

It comes amid growing speculation within Fine Gael that the Taoiseach will call an election in the coming months in an effort to strengthen his hand ahead of the March deadline for Brexit.

The move would allow the party to target Fianna Fáil’s lack of experience with Brexit negotiations.

Speaking to Pat Kenny, Deputy Martin said: "If [the Taoiseach] wants an election, let him call an election. He should not try to create spurious grounds for it, or try and undermine a party that has been honest and has upheld its side of the agreement.”

This evening, the Independent Alliance warned that “speculation of an autumn general election must be put aside for the sake of the country.”

“Key issues such as housing and health continue to remain the priority of Government and nothing must distract us from this.”

“It is less than two and a half years since the last general election and talk of an autumn poll is unhelpful when there is so much work to be done in Government. The lack of progress on a ‘backstop’ solution over the Irish border remains very concerning.”

The confidence and supply agreement includes a clause that keeps it open for a possible extension at the end of this year.

It is believed Fianna Fáil will push for an extension in order to avoid going to the polls while Brexit talks are ongoing.