Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has ruled out an early general election before Christmas, saying it was not in the country's interests with so much uncertainty around Brexit.

Speaking to the media after today’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Varadkar said it could be a crucial time in the Brexit process and the UK general election could see changes to the political landscape in Westminster.

He said it was possible that the Brexit Party could hold the balance of power or other parties may want to reopen UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr Varadkar said: "We should not have a general election until we have some certainty around what is happening with Brexit and we don’t have that yet.

"Very often in Ireland elections are indecisive. It can take weeks or months to form a new government.

"I don't think it would be in the country’s interests for us to be trying to put together a government or to have a caretaker government during which would be a crucial, and potentially dangerous, time for Ireland."

He added that he hoped that whoever was in power in Westminster that they would be in a position to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mr Varadkar joked that although he was going to Áras an Uachtaráin on Monday, he would not be seeking the dissolution of the Dáil.

Last month, Mr Varadkar told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting in Cork that May 2020 was the "right moment" for a general election because the Government would have either secured a Brexit deal or have "guided the country through the worst of no-deal".

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he was "absolutely convinced" that there would not be an election this year and he was "extremely happy" that was the case.

Mr Ross said: "I think the situation with Brexit hasn't worked its way out yet. And I think it would be right for us to continue to provide stable government in a very difficult situation.

"I think the Government has a large amount of work to do at the moment."

Earlier, Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy said he believed the public would be quite happy if a general election was held next month.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, the Cork North Central TD said there was a window of opportunity to take advantage of a pause in Brexit negotiations, as the UK heads to the polls in December.

He added, however, that he did not believe the people of Ireland would forgive the leaders of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael for having to face a general election when the rest of Europe was deciding on the future relationship with the UK in the spring of 2020.

He pointed out that four by-elections are to be held next month so "why not move from four to 40?".


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However, Independent Alliance TD Finian McGrath said it would not be in the public's interest to have an election before Christmas, describing the idea as "bonkers".

He urged "all the young Turks", including some around the Cabinet table, to calm down and focus on the jobs they were elected to do and put the country first.

The Minister of State at the Department of Health said "we should keep going until next May" and he did not feel anyone wanted an election before the end of the year.

Brexit, he said, was not fully resolved and "people need to calm down".

He added that he would like to see Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Taoiseach sit down and agree a date for an election in May next year.

Fianna Fáil's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said it would not be a smart move for the country to hold a general election at this time and he could see "huge risks for Ireland if we go down the road of a pre-Christmas election".

He said there is a 128-page Finance Bill that needs to be scrutinised and the options of parking the bill until next year, or guillotining it through, are not ideal.

Mr McGrath said this was not a great time to have a general election when the nights are cold and dark.

If you want an election where you have less direct engagement with voters, you could have it in November, he said, adding that Fianna Fáil would prefer to engage properly with the electorate.