Irish government on verge of collapse ahead of EU Brexit summit

Anti-Brexit protesters wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

The Fine Gael party - which heads a minority government - has backed Frances Fitzgerald over the dispute but relies on the support of Fianna Fail to remain in power, which has called for her to go.

Theresa May has held talks about a potential referral system to the European Court of Justice for EU systems who choose to remain in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

"Fianna Fail are behaving recklessly here", he told reporters.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney arrives to attend the Eastern Partnership summit at the European Council Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, November 24, 2017.

The Irish border issue has been one of the major sticking points of Brexit talks so far as the EU, UK and the Republic of Ireland have struggled to agree how to regulate trade and the movement of people on the island post-Brexit.

But the European Union has been uncompromising in the ECJ maintaining oversight over 3million European Union citizens living in Britain after Brexit.

Coveney told parliament on Thursday that the government was not yet ready to allow the talks to move on to the trade issues at the December 14-15 summit and needed more clarity from London.

That would break the three-year "confidence and supply" agreement that allowed Varadkar's Fine Gael party to form a minority government 18 months ago.

In an interview with BBC Radio Ulster's Inside Politics show, she added: "But we are not there yet, let's wait and see what happens in Dublin over the coming days".

"There are ways and there is time to resolve this issue", Fianna Fail justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan told a 6pm news bulletin.

The government on Friday said it would not ask Fitzgerald her to resign.

The Irish government is on the verge of collapse after the party whose votes Prime Minister Leo Varadkar depends on to pass legislation said it would move to remove the deputy prime minister in a breach of their co-operation agreement.

A breakdown of the government's cooperation deal, which has worked relatively smoothly up until now between two parties that differ little on policy but have been bitter foes for decades, would likely lead to an election in December or January.

The case relates to a whistleblower who alleged widespread misconduct in the force.

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