The Taoiseach has said he is not ruling out a general election but he will not be seeking the dissolution of the Dáil in the next few days or weeks.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One, Leo Varadkar said it is not the time for an early election, however, he said he "can't rule it out", adding that it is not necessarily his decision because "others could pull the plug on the Government".


Mr Varadkar said if he was to seek a dissolution of the Dáil, he would have to take into consideration not just the results of this election, but also "what's going on across the water in relation to Brexit and the need to have a stable government".

He said he believes Brexit is going to go on for a long time and that UK politics is going to be consumed by it.

However, the Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has indicated that his party will continue to support the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Government.

Mr Varadkar said he "will also have to take into account other factors, like the prospect of getting through a Budget in September/October and by-elections possibly happening in that period as well".

He said a general election is "not a prospect" soon and he said "I don't intend to be calling into Áras an Uachtaráin in the next couple of days anyway".

"If this was about maximising prospects for my party Fine Gael, we would have gone to the country a year ago, in the aftermath of the referendum when we were on 35% in the polls," Mr Varadkar said, insisting he has "never put the party first when it comes to these issues". 

"Putting the country first, there are issues that we need to deal with. Brexit, getting the broadband contract through, putting together a Budget and of course by-elections, so all those four factors and others are at play," he added.

On the future of the Confidence and Supply Agreement, Mr Varadkar said he can only take Mr Martin at his word that he will continue to honour the arrangement until Brexit is resolved.

However he added: "We also need to bear in mind the possibility that Brexit may not be resolved for a very long time. The next deadline is October 31st. Who knows whether there will be another one?"

The sorting of votes in the European and Local Elections, as well as the divorce referendum, began yesterday morning.

This weekend 949 council seats will be filled across 166 local electoral areas.


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Earlier speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Varadkar ruled out a Cabinet reshuffle following the local elections, saying: "I am not sure now is the time to ask ministers to read into a new brief", given the uncertainty over Brexit.

Mr Varadkar believes that Fine Gael will comfortably take three seats in the European elections and are in contention for two more.

He said the party's European vote was up 7% and was leading Fianna Fáil's vote by double digits.

Following the wave of green support, Mr Varadkar said he did not believe it was a protest vote and said he believed that carbon taxes "has to be part of the calculation for the budget".

He said the message from the public was that they want government to do more quicker and accelerate climate action.

Additional reporting Mary Regan