A 2019 general election is a live possibility now.

The only a guarantee is that it won't happen in the next few days or weeks.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has listed a number of reasons why the chances of Government continuing until next year are diminishing.

They include the prospect of four by-elections this winter, if TDs Frances Fitzgerald, Billy Kelleher, Clare Daly and Mick Wallace are elected to the European Parliament over the next few days.

Their election would change the tight numbers in a Dáil where the minority Government already struggles to win votes.

There is a way to keep the administration afloat though.

That would mean nailing down the support of some more Independent TDs in the Dáil and delay calling the by-elections until late November.

The actual votes could then be scheduled after Christmas.

However, it would seem the desire to breathe life into this Government one last time is waning.

Mr Varadkar  spoke tonight about Brexit remaining on the agenda for a very long time, all of which suggests that clarity on the shape of the next Government here is required.

The response from the Fianna Fáil leader was measured.

Micheál Martin said his commitment to try to agree the next budget in October remains.

His tone overall though appeared to be more philosophical than has been the case when this issue was raised previously.

Back then he spoke about the need to stop talking up the likelihood of a general election.

Now he points out that this decision rests with the Taoiseach alone.

It all leads to the conclusion that there may not be sufficient appetite anymore to keep one  of the most uniquely constructed governments in place for much longer.


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