Irish PM says won’t seek deputy PM’s resignation

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Dublin, Nov 25 (IANS) Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said on Friday that he won’t be seeking Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald’s resignation.

In an evening news programme on Irish television channel RTE One, Varadkar said the case against Fitzgerald is “very flimsy”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Decapitation of Tanaiste on trumped-up charges is not fair,” he said.

On Friday, Irish main opposition Fianna Fail (Republican Party) lodged a motion of no confidence against Fitzgerald. The opposition party alleged she was involved in a conspiracy aimed at smearing police whistleblower Maurice McCabe when she served as minister for justice and equality from 2014 to 2016.

Fitzgerald rejected the allegations, saying that she was not part of any conspiracy to undermine McCabe.

The no-confidence motion will be debated Tuesday in the Dail Eireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas, Ireland’s parliament.

Following the 2016 general election, Fine Gael (United Ireland Party) formed a minority government with some non-party TDs (members of parliament). The minority government was made possible by a confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fail, which agreed to abstain in confidence votes.

Analysts here say the no-confidence motion could collapse the opposition party’s confidence and supply agreement with Fine Gael-led minority government and could lead to a general election, possibly before Christmas.

“If we have to go to the polls, it’s better to get it done before Christmas,” Varadkar said in the news program.

“If we don’t resolve matters by Tuesday, then there will be a motion of confidence in the Tanaiste, effectively a motion of confidence in the government and if that motion is successful, well, then we will be into an election at that point,” he said.

“But we still have an opportunity, I think, over the next couple of days,” he added.

Fianna Fail’s leader Micheal Martin said his party does not want a general election and that the issue could be resolved if Fitzgerald steps down. But Fine Gael insists the deputy prime minister did nothing wrong and should not be forced from her position.

–IANS

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