Irish Prime Minister set to announce election date on Tuesday

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Leo Varadkar had wanted a summer 2020 election but said circumstances had changed

Jan 12, 2020

January 12, 2020

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has decided on the date of a general election and is poised to announce the timing of the poll after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

"I have made a decision but there is some respective protocol around this so I would like to speak to the cabinet and the leader of the opposition," he told RTE.

"The cabinet will meet on Tuesday and the Dail (the lower house of parliament) will reconvene on Wednesday."

Some local media reported the date could be as soon as early February. Mr Varadkar said his preference has been for an election in mid-2020 but recent events had necessitated a chance.

“I have always said that that it should only happen when it is the right time for the country and it has been my view for a long time now that the right time would be the summer of 2020," he said.

"But I have to acknowledge that circumstances have changed. We have a deal on Brexit and in many ways that was the big job of this Government, our magnum opus, to secure a deal on Brexit," he added.

A minority government led by Mr Varadkar's centre-right Fine Gael has ruled since 2016 after an initial three-year cooperation deal with Micheal Martin's Fianna Fail was extended through to 2020 due to uncertainty created by Brexit talks.

With Britain set to leave the European Union at the end of January, both had said an election should be held by May.

However a demand by Mr Varadkar for Fianna Fail support on a number of additional issues between now and then has raised the prospect of a snap election as early as next month if the parties cannot agree a short legislative programme.

Updated: January 12, 2020 08:48 PM

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