Coalition leaders' personal relationship 'very good' but no festive pints on the cards

Mr Martin also revealed that he has received a hand-painted landscape Christmas card from Green party leader Eamon Ryan.
Coalition leaders' personal relationship 'very good' but no festive pints on the cards

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Govenment Buildings. Photograph Moya Nolan

Micheál Martin has described his personal relationship with Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan as "very good", but said they will not be getting together for Christmas drinks.

The Taoiseach said he would love to meet the Tanaiste for a pint but it has not been possible because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Martin also revealed that he has received a hand-painted landscape Christmas card from Mr Ryan.

The Green Party leader, whose father, Bob Ryan, was an artist, often paints during his holidays.

Mr Ryan sends out about 100 Christmas cards, which he has painted over the course of the year, to family, friends and colleagues.

Mr Martin said he and Mr Varadkar often speak about films and books when not discussing political issues.

According to the Fianna Fail leader, his Fine Gael coalition partner "listens patiently" to "our banter" about soccer with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

"First of all, we'd love to meet over Christmas if we could," Mr Martin said.

"Our personal relationship is very good, and also with Eamon Ryan by the way.

"I got a lovely Christmas card from Eamon this morning, which he painted himself, no pressure in terms of the response.

"I hope that's not revealing too much. He's a very good artist. Landscape.

"One of the things we say is, because of Covid-19, it's been very strange; normally you would get out for a meal or a pint but that just hasn't been possible.

"Normally around this time of the year you might grab a chance, you know, but it's just not possible. But some day...

"We've a working relationship and we have that facility to pick up the phone if there are any issues and we talk about different things as well outside of politics."

Asked what he and Mr Varadkar speak about outside political matters, Mr Martin said: "Films, books. He listens patiently to our banter about soccer when Paschal Donohoe is in the room. Tottenham Hotspur.

"The last slagging really, you know, the Liverpool fans, I think (Jurgen) Klopp losing it was a very bad sign I thought for Liverpool.

"Leo observed this with a degree of humour.

"Martin Fraser (secretary-general at the Department of the Taoiseach) and Paschal Donohoe are the Liverpool fans. I thought it was very striking that Klopp lost it. I like Klopp, don't get me wrong.

"Leo is more knowledgeable on rugby and Gaelic football. He is on rugby, he played rugby.

"I think he did in his younger days."

Asked if he is surprised at how well he gets on with Mr Varadkar, Mr Martin said: "Not really. I tend to get on with most people. Not everybody would agree with that now.

"We're in politics, so we trust each other so far."

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