Following the unwillingness and inability of other parties to form a Government without us, Fine Gael agreed to enter talks with Fianna Fail and the Green Party with a view to forming a Government in the national interest.
Talks were going well.
Yesterday, it was reported that officials in the Franchise section of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government were making contingency plans for polling in the coming months.
The Constitution and the law are clear on this. Elections, by-elections and referenda must happen within defined timeframes once vacancies arise. There is no specific provision for public health emergencies (eg pandemics) envisaged in the Constitution or the law. Officials were only doing their jobs by scenario planning for all eventualities.
The fact that this prompted an attack on Fine Gael by two senior Fianna Fail spokespeople was unwarranted and has damaged the talks process. It is also rather ironic that one of the two had recently claimed falsely that both parties had agreed to hold a referendum within weeks of forming a Government, presumably during a pandemic.
The Leader of Fine Gael will be in contact with the Leader of Fianna Fail to discuss the matter.