Ireland on the verge of a general election

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will meet Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin again on Saturday

Harry McGee, Sarah Bardon, Fiach Kelly, Rachel Flaherty Fri, Nov 24
LIVE: Ireland on the verge of a general election

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  • 14:47

    The latest on the crisis

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáíl leader Micheál Martin will be meeting later today to try and find a resolution to the crisis surrounding the 32nd Dáil.  

    If both leaders fail to agree a path forward, the election must take place within 30 days under the Constitution.  

    That has been further specified by legislation to between 18 and 25 days, no including Sunday, Bank Holidays, or Good Friday.  

    So essentially the earliest an election could take place if the Taoiseach were to dissolve the Dáil onTuesday would be Monday, the 18th of December.  

    That could leave Sinn Féin in a pickle. Gerry Adams has said he will not lead the party into the next election.  

    If an early election occurs, Mary Lou McDonald would assume the leadership role in the party on a practical level, while Adams would remain as formal president of the party - from Harry McGee
  • 15:01

  • 15:04

    Queues of people registering to vote

  • 15:10


    The crisis centres around Opposition allegations that Ms Fitzgerald, who was minister for justice between 2014 and 2016, was aware of a campaign by the legal team of the former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to undermine the whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe at the O’Higgins commission, which was established in 2015 to look into the sergeant’s claims of corruption and malpractice.

    At a Fianna Fáil meeting on Friday Mr Martin said the party could not support the retention of Ms Fitzgerald in office, a view that was widely supported. Mr Martin said it now looked as if Fine Gael wanted an election. He blamed the crisis on the Government’s failure to adequately answer questions from Alan Kelly, the former deputy leader of the Labour Party, about the Sgt McCabe issue.

    Full story here

  • 15:18

    News on who will lead Sinn Féin into the election (if there is one)


  • 15:25

    The president has just listed his public engagements for the next week... any clues?

    Public Engagements for the week beginning 27 November 2017
    Tuesday 28 November 2017
    14.30 pm (Dublin) Áras an Uachtaráin
    President and Sabina host an Afternoon Tea Reception

    Wednesday 29 November 2017
    11.30 am (Dublin) Áras an Uachtaráin
    President receives Dr. Moustafa Barghouti and Ms. Rima Khalaf Hunaidi on a courtesy call

    Thursday 30 November 2017
    17.30 pm (Dublin) Áras an Uachtaráin
    President presents the Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad

    Friday 1 December 2017
    11.30 am (Dublin) Áras an Uachtaráin
    President receives Máirín Ní Ghadhra who will present a copy of her book on her late father Nollaig Ó Gadhra, former President of Conradh na Gaeilge

    14.30 pm (Dublin) Áras an Uachtaráin
    President receives members of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland

    18.00 pm (Dublin) Áras an Uachtaráin
    President hosts a reception on World Aids Day to mark the 30th anniversary of HIV Ireland


  • 15:32

    Pretty accurate


  • 15:38

    December 19th?

  • 15:41

  • 15:48

    Government in crisis: So what happens now?

    Harry McGee outlines three scenarios that may unfold in coming days


    The first.

    If Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin fail to reach agreement and if the Taoiseach stands foursquare behind his Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald then an election is inevitable.
    The first thing that will happen is the dissolution of the Dáil. This is provided for Under Article 13.2 of the Constitution. The Taoiseach is required to go to Áras an Uachtaráin to advise the President to dissolve the Dáil.
    The President then signs a proclamation giving effect to the dissolution. The Constitution provides that a general election must be held within 30 days.
    Under the Electoral Acts, there is a more specific requirement that polling must take place within 18 and 25 days, not including Sundays or bank holidays. The decision on polling date will be taken by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy.
    The big difficulty is that if the Taoiseach waits until next Tuesday, the earliest he could hold an election would be Thursday December 18th. With counts taking two days, it could mean the result would be announced on December 20th.
    If the Taoiseach were to make the decision today and not wait until the confidence vote is taken, it is possible polling day would be December 15th.

    Full list of scenarios


  • 15:53

  • 15:57
    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due to meet members of the Independent Alliance at 7pm
  • 16:00
    Sinn Fein confirmed Mary Lou McDonald will lead the party into the next general election.
    The party's spokesman on finance Pearse Doherty confirmed the position at a press conference today. - from Sarah Bardon
  • 16:17

    Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin are currently meeting.

    So how did we reach this point?

    Harry McGee has put together the timeline - Story of Garda whistleblower led from complaint made in early 2006


    The saga involving Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe had its beginnings over a decade ago.
    Two garda commissioners and a minister for justice have since departed from office, having been swept up in the controversy.
    Now a general election looms.
    Here are the key events of the McCabe affair, the end of which is not yet in sight:

    January 2006: Maurice McCabe makes a complaint about two Garda colleagues who arrived at the scene of a suicide from a pub where they had been drinking. One of them is subsequently disciplined.
    December 2006: A daughter of the disciplined garda, Ms D, makes a complaint of child sexual abuse against McCabe. The allegation dates from 1998, and it was claimed he touched her inappropriately when playing hide-and-seek. The DPP concludes there are no grounds for prosecution, stating there is no evidence the incident ever happened and, even if it did, it could not have been characterised as anything more than horseplay.
    2008: McCabe raises concerns about penalty points being quashed by senior gardaí for reasons of nepotism or favouritism. At this stage, McCabe was stationed in Mullingar but had spent most of his career in the Cavan-Monaghan division, where he himself was brought up.
    McCabe’s concerns are not acted upon. He continues his research into the abuse of penalty points, discovering a large number of quashed points in his trawls through the Garda’s Pulse system. Eventually, his superiors restricted his access to Pulse.
    2008-2010: McCabe builds up a dossier of 42 cases of alleged malpractice, harassment and corruption in Bailieborough, Co Cavan. There is an internal investigation, headed by senior gardaí, but McCabe believes it has not taken his most serious allegations seriously.

    January 2012: McCabe makes further complaints to the Garda’s then confidential recipient Oliver Connolly, whose job it was to hear complaints and pass them on for investigation. By this time, McCabe and another Cavan garda, John Wilson, have amassed a large file on penalty points.

    Full timeline here

  • 16:33

    In other news it's really really cold!

    Met Éireann's nationwide snow and ice warning is still in place until Saturday night. Temperatures are expected to drop to minus 1 degrees.

  • 16:34

    Update on meeting

  • 16:39

  • 16:43


    The meeting between Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin is understood to have ended around 4.30pm, having lasted about 60 minutes.- from Fiach Kelly

  • 16:46

    Meeting update...

    While no resolution was reached, both leaders agreed they did not want an election and committed to further engagement.  

  • 16:54

    Both leaders will meet again tomorrow

  • 17:03

    In Brexit news...

  • 17:12
    In breaking news...
    Police are attending an incident in London’s Oxford Circus tube station.
    “The station is currently closed, please avoid the area at this time. Officers are on scene.”
  • 17:16

    Bringing down Government disproportionate, says Shane Ross
    Independent Alliance calls on Taoiseach and Martin to swallow pride

    The Independent Alliance has called on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to swallow their pride and bring the country back from the brink of a general election.
    The group, which is part of the Coalition Government with Fine Gael, insisted it has full confidence in Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald but accepts she has displayed poor communication.
    Minister for Transport Shane Ross said she made a number of mistakes but it would be “utterly disproportionate” to bring the country to an election over an email.
    It was time for talks with two “very grown-up men who are now in a very difficult position”, Mr Ross added.
    “They must get together behind closed doors and make a mature decision, that the Government and the arrangement will continue.”
    The group meets the Taoiseach at 7pm on Friday to stress its concerns.
    The five TDs denied this was about them retaining their position in Government and about the country, who they say does not want a general election. - from Sarah Bardon

  • 17:19
    ‘Frank and open’ discussion
    A spokesman for Mr Martin said the discussion was "frank and open", and both agreed an election was not wanted. – from Sarah Bardon
  • 17:32

    Arlene Foster: snap Dáil election would rule out Stormont deal by Christmas
    DUP leader accuses Coveney of exploiting Brexit to press for united Ireland

    DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned a snap general election in the Republic would rule out the prospect of a pre-Christmas deal with Sinn Féin to restore the Northern Executive.
    Ms Foster also accused the Irish Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in particular of exploiting the Brexit negotiations to push an united Ireland agenda.
    “Certainly in respect of the Stormont talks, I would assume that if an election was called in the Republic of Ireland, that Sinn Féin’s focus would be entirely then on Dublin and the elections down there. So, I think it would have a huge impact on whether we were able to bring around devolution this year to Northern Ireland.
    “As I understand it the election would have to take place before Christmas, so that means that December would really be out in terms of the talks. But we are not there yet. Let’s wait and see what happens in Dublin over the coming days,” she told the BBC on Friday.
    December had been earmarked as a month in which there was some possibility outstanding difficulties over issues such as the Irish language, same-sex marriage and the sustainability of Stormont might be resolved. The DUP conference is on Saturday.

    Full story here



  • 17:54


  • 18:17

    Frances Fitzgerald, advisors and private secretary all received key email
    Email in relation to Garda legal strategy leads to Government crisis

    Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, her two special advisors, her private secretary and the Secretary General of the Department of Justice all received the email advising them of the legal strategy being enforced against Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
    It has emerged through the website that Ms Fitzgerald received the email from Assistant Secretary General Michael Flahive on May 15th 2015.
    The correspondence advised the then minister for justice of an attempt by the former Garda commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan to introduce a “serious criminal” charge against Sgt McCabe at the O’Higgins commission, an inquiry examining allegations of Garda malpractice. This was done to question Mr McCabe’s motivation, the email advised.

    Full story here

  • 18:30
    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is speaking on RTÉ news right now
  • 18:31
    "We still have an opportunity over the next couple of days to avoid a general election.
  • 18:32
    "I don't want there to be a general election.
  • 18:33


    "She (Tánaiste)   saw the email in 2014...2015 rather.

  • 18:34
    "Fundamentally this has to be about justice and fairness.
  • 18:34
  • 18:35

    Leo Varadkar interview continues...

    "Let's all calm down a bit.


  • 18:36

    "A terrible injustice was done to Maurice McCabe.

    Question: You could stop this election?

    "That would mean me throwing a good woman under the bus.

  • 18:37
    "It would have been improper for her to do so if she had intervened (when she received the email).
  • 18:38
    "I think Irish people deep down believe in fair play and justice.
  • 18:39

    "If we have to go to do polls, and I don't want to go to the polls, it would be better to be done before Christmas.


  • 18:41

    Question: If the Tánaiste hands in her resignation before Tuesday what will you do?

    Varadkar said he doesn't believe that will happen.

    "She hasn't done anything wrong in my view," he said.

  • 18:45
    "I certainly won't be seeking her resignation.
  • 19:04

    A quick summary of Leo Varadkar's interview...

    He said: "Let's all calm down a bit.

    But then said seconds later:

    "If we have to go to do polls, and I don't want to go to the polls, it would be better to be done before Christmas."

  • 19:18

  • 19:27

    `Wrath of the public'

    Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will feel the wrath of the electorate if a snap election takes places, smaller parties in the Dáil have warned.

    Solidarity People Before Profit and the Social Democrats have confirmed they will not vote confidence in Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald but have said the issue is not about a “simple email”.

    Social Democrats joint leader Catherine Murphy said the content of that email was very important and if the Tanaiste “didn’t see it there’s a degree of not having control of the department”.

    “If she did see it and decided to do nothing, well doing nothing is doing something.”

    The North Kildare TD said the party , which currently has two TDs was “ready for an election but a snap election is not the right thing either. Neither could we express confidence in Frances Fitzgerald.”

    Solidarity TD Mick Barry said “nobody is jumping up and down at the prospect of a Christmas election and FF and FG won’t be thanked for it.

    “But if the vote is put next week we’ll be in the no confidence camp.”

    The Cork North Central TD said “people know that the establishment tried to blacken the name of Garda whistle-blower Maurice McCabe”.

    People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said “this isn’t just about Frances Fitzgerald. She’s a member of a Government that’s failed, and both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are part of a Government arrangement, which has failed to deal with this problem.

    He said Fine Gael and Fianna Fail “will feel the wrath of the public” if there is a Christmas election. - from Marie O'Halloran

  • 19:39

    Abortion referendum set for delay if election held before Christmas
    Social-welfare increases and public-service pension restoration also hit

    The abortion referendum is likely to be delayed if a general election is triggered by next week’s no-confidence motions in the Dáil. The work of the Oireachtas group dealing with abortion, the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, will also fall once an election is triggered.
    Social-welfare increases and the restoration of public-service pension payments are set to be delayed as well.

    But the cuts in the universal social charge, the sugar tax on sweetened drinks, and all the measures in the Finance Bill will go ahead, as the Bill has completed its passage through the Dáil. The Seanad remains in place after the Dáil is dissolved and can deal with the Bill’s measures.

    Full story here



  • 20:05

  • 20:14

  • 20:39

    That's it from our liveblog for today. Thank you for your company.

    All updates will continue to be published on

    Tomorrow, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will meet with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin again to see if they can avoid a general election.

    However, Mr Varadkar insisted this evening he would not be seeking the resignation of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.  

    At a Fianna Fáil meeting today, Mr Martin said the party could not support the retention of Ms Fitzgerald in office, a view that was widely supported.