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Frances Fitzgerald, the Irish deputy prime minister, has denied any wrongdoing PA

Irish Government on verge of collapse after motion of no confidence tabled against deputy prime minister

WT24 Desk

The Irish government could be on the verge of collapse after the party propping it up tabled a motion of no confidence in the deputy prime minister, The Independent reports

Opposition party Fianna Fail previously agreed a three-year deal to support Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s government in key votes but the the motion of no confidence against his deputy, Frances Fitzgerald, is seen as a major breach of that deal.

Members of the governing Fine Gael party had previously said such a motion would end the confidence-and-supply deal agreed between the two parties that saw Mr Varadkar lead a minority government.

Without the support of Fianna Fail he is likely to be forced to call a fresh general election just five months into his term in office. Current opinion polls suggest neither of the two MPs would win enough seats to form a majority government.

The controversy over Ms Fitzgerald relates to her handling of a 2015 legal case involving a police whistleblower, Maurice McCabe, when she was the Minister for Justice. She has admitted being made aware of attempts to discredit Mr McCabe and failing to act to stop them but denies any wrongdoing.

An email discovered earlier in December showed that, contrary to Mr Varadkar’s previous claims, Ms Fitzgerald had been informed at the time that lawyers for Irish police force the Garda were planning to raise questions about Mr McCabe’s integrity in order to discredit his claims about police failings.

Fianna Fail had previously said it might scrap plans for the motion of no confidence in Ms Fitzgerald but went ahead after Fine Gael MPs unanimously gave their support to her after an emergency meeting on Thursday evening.

Asked by Reuters whether this meant Ireland was heading for a general election, a senior Fianna Fail source said: “Straight towards ones.”

It comes just weeks ahead of an EU summit at which Ireland has a veto over whether Brexit negotiations should progress. The issue over the Northern Ireland border has been a major sticking point during talks so far.

In an apparent reference to the difficulties, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney of Fine Gael told RTE that the motion against Ms Fitzgerald was “dangerous politically at a time when the country does not need an election”.

Mr Coveney said the Irish Government was not yet ready to allow talks to progress and urged the UK to provide more clarity about its post-Brexit plans.

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