Fianna Fáil dismiss Leo Varadkar letter as a "kite" that should be allowed to fly away
The party's communications spokesperson has urged the media not to be distracted by it.
Leo Varadkar has revealed a letter he wrote to Fianna Fáil head leader Micheál Martin last week seeking to open talks to extend the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the parties to summer 2020 – and to ensure that no general election happens until then.
In the letter, which he shared on Twitter, he said that he planned to "open negotiations on an extension to the Confidence and Supply Arrangement", as well as "set out the ambitious programme of work we want to achieve over the next two years."
Varadkar also alluded to Martin that his government will not be able to function unless there is clarity about its longevity.
I wrote to the leader of Fianna Fáil last week seeking to open negotiations on an extension to the Confidence and Supply Arrangement and an agreed election date in Summer 2020. In the letter I set out the ambitious programme of work we want to achieve over the next 2 years.... pic.twitter.com/DxZR6JQHD6
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) September 4, 2018
Varadkar said that a government cannot function if it is "living on borrowed time" and he said that such uncertainty "weakens" the government's hand in the Brexit talks, at a time of "increasing international uncertainty."
“A government cannot function if it does not know if it will last from week-to-week or month-to-month if it does not know what will happen to its programme and legislative agenda the day after Budget Day or the day the Finance Bill is passed," he added.
"Such a scenario would not be in the interests of citizens, taxpayers or users of public services."
The Taoiseach also went on to say that he is willing to appoint a team to begin negotiations immediately.
A confidence-and-supply agreement is one whereby a party or independent members of government will support the government in motions of confidence and appropriation or budget (supply) votes, by either voting in favour or abstaining.
Varadkar's 10-page letter outlines how he believes Fine Gael has lived up to the unprecedented deal, which was constructed a short time after the 2016 election.
He referenced the government's struggle "to make sustainable improvements to public healthcare”, the worsening housing crises and the fact that the economy is “powering ahead at a much faster rate than projected".
“There are now some concerns about overheating with growing downside economic risks due to international developments, such as changes in the international corporation tax landscape, and the possibility of disruptions to the global trading system,” he says.
The Taoiseach has also sent his counterpart a list of items which he would like to see included in a new Confidence and Supply Arrangement.
The list includes:
- On a phased basis, USC and PRSI will be merged
- Raising the higher entry point for income tax to €37,500 by 2020
- Auto-enrolment pension to be in place by 2022
- Put €2.5 billion in the Rainy Day Fund
- Moderate increases to Property Tax
- Increase old age pension by at least the rate of inflation
- Apply rent increase restrictions to student accommodation
- Increase third level funding by €50 million
- A Dublin’s Citizens’ Assembly to examine options for local government reform
Both parties are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss Budget 2019, which is a mere five weeks away.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson Timmy Dooley has called the request for talks to renew the Confidence and Supply Agreement as nothing more than a "kite" that should be allowed to fly away with the wind.
“It’s just a distraction away from the real issues,” Dooley said.