Updated: 24/11/17 : 07:17:42
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Taoiseach tells party to prepare for January election

A meeting of Fine Gael TDs and senators in Leinster House last night has unanimously passed a motion in support of Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald.

The parliamentary party issued a statement following the meeting, saying it stood firmly behind Ms Fitzgerald.

The Taoiseach told his TDs and senators to prepare for an election in mid-January. One minister suggested it could take place on Friday, January 12.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called an emergency meeting of his front bench for 9.30am today to discuss the full-blown political crisis.

Fianna Fáil will also today lodge a motion of no-confidence in the Tánaiste and it will be scheduled to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.

Should Ms Fitzgerald not resign before Tuesday, the Government will fall and a December election will follow.

There is still an expectation that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin may talk but neither looks like backing down at this stage.

That means it is either a resignation or an election.

Fianna Fáil's motion is a result of the ongoing row over an email sent to Minister Fitzgerald in May 2015 relating to the Maurice McCabe affair.

Earlier, Fianna Fáil's justice spokesperson said his party can no longer express confidence in Ms Fitzgerald and she "should go".

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Jim O'Callaghan said the events of the last week undermined the confidence and supply agreement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

He said Mr Martin had spoken yesterday by telephone to Mr Varadkar to express this view.

Sinn Féin earlier tabled a motion of no confidence in Ms Fitzgerald over her handling of the garda whistleblower controversy when she was Minister for Justice.

Ms Fitzgerald has been under pressure over her account of the email she received in relation to the legal strategy of the former Garda Commissioner in the case of Sergeant McCabe.

He said Fianna Fáil bears no grudge against the Tánaiste, but if there is a vote next week it cannot express confidence in her.

He said if there is a General Election as a consequence of the vote so be it, but it is the party's hope that the matter will be resolved and Ms Fitzgerald will resign.