Prospect of General Election Looms Large in Ireland as Health Crisis Deepens
A general election is looming ever closer in Ireland today, as the Health Minister, Simon Harris faces the prospect of a motion of no confidence, in the Irish Parliament.
Speaking to the state broadcaster, RTE, Independent member of Parliament, Michael Collins TD said it was his intention to propose tabling the motion of no confidence once Parliament resumes next week following the Christmas break.
Deputy Collins is part of a 7-member alliance known as the Rural Independents. He said he has already spoken to some members of the group with a view to tabling the motion.
If 4 of the 7 members of the Rural Independent Group supported the proposal, a motion would be tabled.
Due to the current make-up of Parliament, should a motion be tabled, Government faces a real risk of losing.
Speaking on RTE radio Deputy Collins said, ‘We have a major crisis in almost every area of the Irish health service.’
Referencing the issue of hospital overcrowding he said, ‘This week we have the highest number of people on trolleys.’
He said, ‘We have elective surgeries being cancelled, there’s an embargo on home help which is causing a catastrophic situation for elderly people throughout the country. We have delayed discharges from hospitals, we have high waiting lists.’
Deputy Collins said should he receive the support of his colleagues to table the motion, the intention was to do so by the end of January or early February.
Two other Independent members of Parliament, Deputy Mattie McGrath and Deputy Michael Healy Rae have indicated their intention to support the proposal.
Ireland’s minority ruling party, Fine Gael, is supported by the opposition Fianna Fail party under a confidence and supply agreement since 2016. The agreement was due to run for a three- year period but was extended due to uncertainty over Brexit. Now that Brexit is due to happen on January 31st, the prospect of an election becomes more immediate.
Irish Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar is meeting with Fianna Fail Leader, Micheál Martin today to discuss the timing of an election.
Taoiseach Varadkar has indicated his support of a May election, while the opposition leader has suggested his preference for the country to go to the polls in April.
Commenting on the prospect of a motion of no confidence, Minister Harris told reporters, ‘What is now clear is there is going to be a general election in the next couple of months in Ireland and the timing of that general election will be decided by the Taoiseach after discussions with the leader of Fianna Fáil.’
He said, ‘We’re having a debate about whether the election takes place in 3/4/5 weeks, or whether the election takes place in 12/13/14 weeks, so this is a relatively short period of time.’
A clearer picture of when the election will take place is likely later today at the end of the meeting of the two main parties.
(Image by mounsey via pixabay.com)