Varadkar to meet Martin next week ‘to discuss ways forward’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has arranged to meet with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin next week to “discuss ways forward” on forming a government.

Speaking to Irish journalists in Brussels today, Friday, February 21, the Taoiseach said that he will report back to the Fine Gael parliamentary party on “probably Wednesday or Thursday” of next week to get the views from the party’s 35 TDs.

“We will meet early next week, and on foot of that I’ll brief the parliamentary party and speak to them whether there is any basis for going forward,” he said.

The position of Fine Gael is that we are preparing for opposition. We think that those parties that are now in opposition should form a government.

“We are willing to talk to other parties about participating in government if the opposition fails to put a government together, but that’s not something we are planning to do or are looking for,” the Taoiseach added.

He stipulated that this “could really only happen on the basis that there’s full respect for the fact that we did win 450,000 votes in this election”.

“We have 35 seats. We didn’t win this election, but we have almost as many seats and votes as Fianna Fáil, and not that many fewer then Sinn Féin. But I don’t see any evidence yet that this is recognised by any other party,” the Taoiseach concluded.

EU budget talks

The Taoiseach was speaking today after meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel on the proposed EU budget for 2021 to 2027.

Talks are taking place over the course of today and yesterday on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The Taoiseach has outlined to the EU leaders that the current proposal is “not something we could accept”, citing the plan to cut funding for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as a problem.

“Essentially, it means that Ireland will contribute much more to the EU budget, but will actually receive less back, in terms of payments to Irish farmers, and also funds for regional development and social development,” he highlighted.