Agriculture Minister Michael Creed launched a scathing attack on Mr Martin after it was revealed the leader of opposition party Fianna Fail had written to Mr Varadkar urging him to name a date for the next Irish general election. Mr Creed said: “It’s clear that once Brexit is done at the end of January, all bets are off and we don’t control it any more.
“But this farce about Micheal Martin writing letters to Leo about fixing a date – the truth is that since May 6, 2016, Fianna Fail has had a veto on the lifetime of this government anyway.
“Now they’re talking about an ‘orderly wind-down’ – you cannot have good governance if you’re talking about a wind-down.
“The Government must continue to govern on the last day as it did on the first day, otherwise government becomes impotent and that cannot be allowed to happen.
“Every government department, including my own, must continue to act right up to the last day, as it did on the first.
“You can’t say it should end on April 10 – because then you’re a lame-duck government.
Mr Creed also suggested another reason behind Mr Martin’s decision to push Mr Varadkar on the issue: criticism from his own party, specifically John McGuinness, chairman of the powerful Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, who Mr Creed said was “snapping at his leader’s heels”.
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“That is a crucial question for Mr Martin and obviously he’s not going to answer that one right now.”
In his letter, Mr Martin told Mr Varadkar: “The responsible thing to do at this point is to end the speculation and agree a date for the dissolution of the Dail, a date for the holding of the election.
“Nothing positive can be achieved if we allow growing escalation of speculation” or “short-term tactics” concerning the calling of the election.
The ongoing speculation “ignores the need for stability and the reality of the completion of Brexit and what needs to be done over the coming months”, Mr Martin added.
He wrote: “We can end this growing instability now. I am available to discuss this matter.”
“It is my view that Easter represents the natural end of the current Dail and the spring session should be used to complete important legislation and this will allow for 34 sitting days to consider and complete that necessary legislation.”
Mr Varadkar responded by saying he had not yet spoken to Mr Martin about an election date, adding: “He does talk about an orderly wind-down of the Government and I’m not sure what that means.
“The Government needs to be focused on its job always and all the time and not be wound down.
“It may not be Micheal Martin or me that decide. As you can see, the numbers in the Dail have got very tight – people retiring, by-elections, people defecting. All sorts of things.
“And there are even indications that one Fianna Fail TD might vote against Fianna Fail. So it may not be any of our calls,”