Fianna Fáil extends confidence-and-supply deal with Fine Gael-led coalition government for 2019
THE Republic's main opposition party Fianna Fáil has agreed to extend its confidence and supply deal with the minority Fine Gael-led coalition government for the duration of 2019.
The decision to renew an arrangement that has been in place since 2016 will ensure Ireland avoids a general election only months from Brexit. The state will go to the polls in early 2020.
Confirming the move, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: "Fianna Fáil is determined that the political chaos we see in London will not be allowed to spread to Ireland."
Mr Martin continued: "We simply do not believe that the national interest could in any way be served by taking up to four months during next year to schedule and hold an election campaign and then form a government.
"With business and communities already fearful about the impact of Brexit and with Ireland manifestly not ready for many of the potential outcomes, how could it possibly be in the national interest to have extended political uncertainty next year?
"This is why Fianna Fáil will extend a guarantee that government will be able to operate throughout 2019.
"This will allow the introduction of any emergency legislation and budgets, as well as the full end of year Budget and associated legislation. This will in turn allow the holding of an election early in the following year."
Addressing the Dáil, Mr Martin criticised the performance of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's administration, particularly in the areas of housing, health and tax policy.
"This decision has been reached reluctantly but it is unavoidable," he added.
Mr Martin said one of his party's key priorities was ensuring the country was prepared for a no-deal Brexit: "Of course we cannot guarantee that the government will not undermine itself and stumble out of office, but it is receiving a guarantee of stability unprecedented for a minority government in its situation."
"If we could have a new government in days then we would be able to act differently. But it will take a process of months and Ireland doesn't have months which it can waste on putting politics before the people's interests.
"Tomorrow morning I will be meeting with colleagues from throughout the EU, including eight members of the European Council. I will be telling them that Ireland will be a stable and reliable partner for them in the months ahead.
"The contagion of political chaos will not spread here from London. There is a clear majority in Dail Eireann which will ensure stability and the national interest will be put first."