The chances of a general election this year have receded after the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin ruled out pulling the plug on the 'confidence and supply' deal between his party and Fine Gael, writes Paul Cunningham.

Speaking to RTÉ's The Week in Politics programme, Mr Martin said: "We have honoured the agreement up to now, and I'm fully determined that we continue to honour the agreement.

"That's three budgets and a review at the end of 2018. That's what was specifically written into the confidence and supply deal."

He said Fianna Fáil would not just vote in favour of the budget in October, but also support enabling legislation over the following months.

Mr Martin said: "When we say we want a budget passed - that does mean a Finance Act, and does mean a Social Welfare Bill. Of course it does. Because you have to give effect to the measures announced in the budget."

He dismissed suggestions that supporting another budget could give electoral advantage to Fine Gael: "I don't buy the line that budgets win elections. And I'm not fazed by that at all."

Asked if confidence and supply had worked, he replied: "In terms of giving a Government, and giving a budget - yes. But there have been, admittedly, short-comings [like] housing and health."

Mr Martin said the next budget needs to be a housing and health budget.

The Fianna Fáil leader said he believes both challenges need to be dealt with above everything else. He described the housing situation as an emergency, not a crisis.

He said: "Young couples can’t buy a house in our cities. Young people starting to work in our cities can’t afford to rent houses. It is an appalling situation, which is impacting on individuals, on families and on the economy."

He said that the capital budget has to be increased in terms of building more local authority housing.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin said he is watching the developments at Independent News & Media with "profound concern" and that he was "taken aback" by the revelations of the last week.

On Friday, the former chairman of INM Leslie Buckley released a statement over an alleged data breach at the newspaper publisher.

Mr Buckley said he was appalled at the widespread sharing of court documents from the Office of Director of Corporate Enforcement.

The details of the alleged data breach emerged in an affidavit from the Director of Corporate Enforcement, Ian Drennan.

It alleged personal data relating to 19 individuals, including journalists, may have been accessed. 


Explainer: What the INM story is about