Ireland's health minister said on Tuesday that Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald should not resign and retains the support of the governing Fine Gael party.
Unncertainty over Fitzgerald's future left has put the country hours away from the triggering of a snap election.
"There is certainly not a need for her to resign, the position of Fine Gael remains the same and the position of the Taoiseach (prime minister) remains the same," Simon Harris told reporters on his way into a meeting of Fine Gael ministers.
Irish government could fall amid whistleblower row
Ireland’s government could fall by the end of Tuesday amid an acrimonious row over a former justice minister that threatens to destabilize crunch EU Brexit talks scheduled for next month.In a national dispute that has reached the ears of the EU’s top leaders, lawmakers from Ireland’s biggest opposition party, Fianna Fail, are set to table a no-confidence motion in parliament over Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald at 8 p.m. Dublin time (2000GMT).Fitzgerald has been accused of knowing about plans by lawyers for the police, known as the Gardai, to discredit a Garda whistleblower who exposed wrongdoing in the force.Revelations about her handling of the affair have undermined Fianna Fail support for the minority government of Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar.Ministers from Varadkar’s Fine Gael party are meeting this morning in Dublin. Local media has reported that Fitzgerald has faced calls from a number of senior Fine Gael figures to step down so as to avoid a pre-Christmas general election.Despite a series of one-on-one meetings between Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin in recent days, if Fitzgerald does not go, Varadkar will have to meet Ireland’s president to ask that the current parliament be wound up.UK's May remains hopeful for next Brexit phaseIrish foreign minister says opposition vote would bring down governmentAn election campaign and possible change of government could seriously complicate preparations for a major EU Brexit summit scheduled for Dec. 14-15.The meeting is to decide if talks with the U.K. can proceed to substantive issues such as trade. The remaining EU states must unanimously agree that sufficient progress has already been made on preliminary issues -- including arrangements at the Irish-U.K. border.However, London and Dublin have moved apart on the issue of what will happen to the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.Dublin is adamantly opposed to a ‘hard’ border such as the one seen during decades of violence known as the Troubles, in which around 3,600 people died, when the Irish landscape was marked by troops, police and extensive military installations.The Irish government says it remains unconvinced by British promises to maintain an open border after Brexit and fear it could leader to political and economic instability on the island again.These fears mean it is possible Dublin could use its power of veto in December’s EU summit to bring Brexit talks to a halt.Waiting for May, Brussels eyes December Brexit dealUK 'ready to move on' in Brexit talks, May claims
Irish PM continues talks with opposition
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar continued to hold talks with the main opposition party leader Friday in a bid to avoid a snap election as his minority government teetered near collapse.Varadkar met Fianna Fail party leader Micheal Martin amid a deepening row sparked by a motion of 'no confidence' late Thursday against Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald. The motion centers on allegations that Fitzgerald, while serving as justice minister, was made aware of a campaign to discredit a police whistleblower. She has been under pressure regarding what she knew about what lawyers were going to say to the whistleblower at a commission of inquiry.Varadkar and Martin decided to continue talks Saturday as the Fianna Fail leader refused to budge on the no-confidence motion. The political crisis started when Varadkar backed Fitzgerald and his party passed a motion to support her at an emergency meeting Thursday. Varadkar told his senior ministers he would not be sacking Fitzgerald, did not expect her to resign and did not want her to resign.Fianna Fail has been in a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with the Fine Gael-led government. Fianna Fail, according to the deal, had agreed not to vote against the Fine Gael-led minority government in confidence motions and to support it for budget votes.Fianna Fail has supported the minority government formed by Varadkar’s Fine Gael party since general elections held in February 2016 did not give any political party a majority to form a government. A motion of no confidence against a cabinet minister, if passed in parliament, would mean an immediate collapse of the minority government.A spokesman for Martin said the leaders held “an open and frank discussion. Both agreed that an election is not needed now, and they agreed to further engagement over the weekend”.Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said he will not lead the party into any snap general election this winter. Adams last week announced his plans to stand aside as party president soon.Sinn Fein already tabled their motion against the deputy prime minister Thursday and it will be debated next week. The government is likely to collapse if lawmakers vote to pass the motion and an early general election is likely to be held in December or January, according to local media reports.UK's May remains hopeful for next Brexit phase