Taoiseach dismisses idea of ‘super-election’ in June

Comments come amid rising speculation of autumn election

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is “not planning” for a general election in 2024.

There has been much speculation that an election could be called for the autumn after one last Budget delivered by the current Coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. An election must be held by March 2025.

The Fine Gael leader, Mr Varadkar, insisted he was focusing on the Government’s work when asked about the prospect of an early general election.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme, he said: “It is of course the Taoiseach’s prerogative to seek a dissolution of the Dáil and therefore to call an election but I’m not planning an early election.”


Mr Varadkar said his focus is on “building more homes, it’s helping families with he cost-of-living, putting more money back into people’s pockets, it’s focusing on law and order, building safer and stronger communities and also safeguarding the economic progress we’ve made”.

He said “we’ll fight elections when they come” but also that he has not set a date “nor do I have a date in my mind for the next general election.”

Asked if he was ruling out a general election in 2024, he repeated: “Not planning an early election.”

He dismissed the chances of a “super-election” in June that would see a general election occurring at the same time as the local and European elections, saying he was “not planning for that”.

He denied that decisions by eight Fine Gael TDs not to contest the next election amounted to colleagues throwing in the towel.

He said: “They all have their reasons – sometimes it’s age, sometimes it’s health, sometimes it’s other reasons, more personal reasons as well.”

Mr Varadkar said retirements are being announced by TDs in other parties as well and it’s “normal in a political process that people will move on for all sorts of different reasons”.

Fine Gael will this month start their general election selection conventions to decide on candidates.

Mr Varadkar said Dublin Bay South will be first. “That’s exactly the kind of seat we would be planning to gain back at the next general election,” he said, saying not all of the selection conventions will be completed before the local elections.

Mr Varadkar said councillors who are successful in the local elections “become the obvious candidate” to run in the general election.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar insisted there is “no row” between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over how Ireland’s next European Commissioner will be selected.

He would not be drawn on whether he would like Fine Gael politician Mairead McGuinness to remain on at the Commission after her current term ends.

Mr Varadkar said there is no written agreement between the Coalition parties on the issue.

Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said last month that there is a clear understanding and agreement in the Coalition that the next commissioner will be a Fianna Fáil nominee.

Asked about this Mr Varadkar said “that may well be the case but that’s something that we’re going to discuss when the situation arises”.

He declined to say if he believed Fianna Fáil Minister for Finance Michael McGrath – upon whom much speculation has centred in relation to the Commission job – would fit the bill, saying: “I’m not going to get into that.”

Mr Varadkar said he understood why the question is being asked but added: “there’d be absolutely nothing more than some people would love than to try and create some sort of fake row here between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and between me and Micheál Martin.

“There is no row. There’s been no decision or discussion on this.

“We will do that most likely June/July when the situation actually arises.”

Mr Varadkar was also asked if he plans to stay on in politics if Fine Gael is not in Government after the next election.

He said he thinks Fine Gael will be in Government, that its aim is to grow support, and he predicted the party will gain seats.

He said he will be contesting the next general election and he is grateful to have been elected by his community on five occasions during his 21 years in politics.

Mr Varadkar added: “It’s something that I don’t take for granted and I’m going to continue to work very hard in my job as party leader, as a constituency TD, also as minister and also as Taoiseach.”

  • Sign up for push alerts and have the best news, analysis and comment delivered directly to your phone
  • Find The Irish Times on WhatsApp and stay up to date
  • Our In The News podcast is now published daily – Find the latest episode here
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times