Charlie Flanagan slams FF 'game playing'; defends Taoiseach's 'misinterpreted' 'Bejaysus' remark

By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor in Washington DC

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has accused Fianna Fáil of "game playing" in relation to the formation of a Government.

Speaking in Washington DC, Mr Flanagan was speaking after acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny cut short his trip to the United States for St Patrick's Day to return to Dublin to assess discussions with Independents and small parties.

Speaking at a Science Foundation Ireland St Patrick’s Day Event in Washington, Minister Flanagan says Fianna Fáil is behaving like they won the general election, which he said "they clearly haven't".

He added that he respects "the will of the people through the ballot box - the result being inconclusive".

Mr Flanagan accused Fianna Fáil of acting in a “swashbuckling way as if they had won the election”.

It is expected that at some point in the next week or 10 days Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have to begin talks on either a minority Government or grand coalition.

Mr Flanagan also criticised what he called a misinterpretation of Mr Kenny's “Bejaysus” remarks at an Irish Embassy event last night.

Mr Kenny joked he wished he didn't have to go home and face forming a Government. Mr Kenny joked that he wished he didn't have to go home after having such a good time in the US capital.

Having been introduced to the assembled gathering by Ambassador Anne Anderson, Mr Kenny quipped he'd rather not go home.

"Bejaysus I wish I didn't have to go back and face what I have to face," he said.

Speaking about his recent losing of the election, Mr Kenny described the verdict of the electorate was a complex one but he said he respected it.

Mr Flanagan said: "I was present when the Taoiseach made a light-hearted comment and I'm disappointed that his comment has misinterpreted (and) misunderstood."

The Minister also highlighted the risks to Ireland of a British exit from the European Union.

“From an Irish perspective, amongst the risks is that of Brexit – a vote by the British public in their June referendum to leave the European Union,” he said.

“Ireland has worked hard within the EU over many months to ensure agreement on a new settlement for the UK. This has been one of the main priorities for the Taoiseach and me in our engagement with the British Government and our EU partners,” Mr Flanagan added.

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