Tiff over election date distracting from real issues

18 December 2019

With the ongoing exchanges between Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar over the election date, Brendan Howlin TD said that both men should stop trying to rewrite the Constitution and focus on dealing with the real problems in healthcare, housing and homelessness.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The Constitution is clear that Dáil Éireann shall be dissolved by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach, although the President has the absolute discretion to refuse to do so.

“We will have a general election either when Leo Varadkar chooses to advise the President to dissolve the Dáil, or if the loss of a confidence motion in the Dáil sends the Taoiseach to the Phoenix Park earlier than he intended. In any event, there is no provision in law or tradition for two political parties to have a cosy agreement on an election date that suits them to the exclusion of everyone else.

“Despite the economic recovery, we have growing waiting times and overcrowding in our hospitals, over 10,500 people in homelessness, and housing is unaffordable to the majority of people. Rather than the leader of Fianna Fáil claiming there is no point in reconvening the Dáil after Christmas, he could lend his support to Labour’s Housing (Homeless Families) Bill, which would legally require local authorities to recognise the needs of children and families in homelessness for the first time.

“There are many other laws that could and should be enacted in January and February to make a difference to people’s lives. That should be the priority of all parties in the Dáil, not using the airwaves to enact a phoney war in order to give the public the false impression that the next election is all about the two conservative parties.”

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