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Taoiseach: Decision has been made on election

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said a decision has been made on the date for the general election, but he is not announcing it yet.

Speaking to RTE’s The Week, he said he was not announcing it due to “protocol”.

Mr Varadkar said he would speak to the cabinet and leader of the opposition before the Dáil reconvenes on Wednesday.

He acknowledged “circumstances have changed” around the election date.

Previously, he had stated a preference for a summer election.

The Taoiseach said the deal between the UK and EU on Brexit, the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland and a change of numbers in the Dáil were factors he was taking into account.

“It is the prerogative of the Taoiseach to request the dissolution of the Dáil, and that is a duty which I take very seriously,” he said.

“I have always said it should only happen when it is the right time for the country.”

Since the 2016 general election, Fine Gael has governed on the basis of a confidence-and-supply agreement with Fianna Fáil, with the opposition party agreeing to abstain on certain votes.

The government could potentially lose a no confidence vote in Irish health minister Simon Harris, which is due to happen on 5 February.

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Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness has said he will break with the confidence and supply agreement and vote against the health minister.

Mr Varadkar said such a move would make it impossible for Fianna Fáil to continue to support the deal between the two parties.

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