By Luke O'Reilly, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is “confident” that the Government will win a confidence vote in the Dáil on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Axis Community Centre in Ballymun on Monday, Mr Martin branded the vote a “cynical exercise” by opposition party Sinn Féin, and said that the Irish people did not want a general election.
Asked if he was confident that the Government would win the confidence vote, Mr Martin said he believed that the majority of TDs wanted to deal “constructively” with the challenges facing the nation.
“I am confident, I would believe that the majority of TDs believe in getting things done, (and) constructively dealing with challenges and problems, and primarily dealing with the cost of living and ensuring that we have a budget at the end of September”, he said.
The Taoiseach warned that there would be “a real doubt” over the next budget if a general election was called now.
“There would be a real doubt over a budget at the end of September if there was to be a general election in the next number of weeks”, he said.
“And I think that would be destructive.”
The Government faces a confidence vote on Tuesday after losing its majority in the Dáil.
The coalition has gradually seen its majority whittled down over the past few months – finally losing it when Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh resigned the whip over the Government’s controversial Bill to provide redress to homeowners in counties affected by defective building blocks.
The loss of Mr McHugh saw the number of Government TDs drop to 79 – one short of a Dáil majority.
Sinn Féin tabled the motion, with party president Mary Lou McDonald saying that independent TDs face a “big call” on whether they are going to back “bad government” or instead “stand up and be counted” to secure a change in administration.
Last week, Sinn Féin were looking for a cost of living package and an emergency budget, this week they’re looking for a general election
Mr Martin called the confidence vote a “cynical exercise” by Sinn Féin.
“The Irish people do not want a general election”, he said.
“We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, we have a war on the continent of Europe. Last week, Sinn Féin were looking for a cost of living package and an emergency budget, this week they’re looking for a general election.
“A general election would mean no budgetary package over the next while, and would lead to paralysis.
“In my view it’s just a cynical exercise.”
Asked what argument he would be making to his own party as to why he should be allowed to lead them into the next election, Mr Martin said he was the elected leader and no one was telling him otherwise.
“It’s not a question of anyone should allow me to do anything”, he said.
“As far as I’m concerned I’ve been elected as leader of the parliamentary party, and there’s nobody coming to me to say otherwise, quite frankly.
“For the last while it has been quite positive as I’ve gone around the TDs and around the country.”