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Enda calls for 'end to Civil War politics' as courtship of Fianna Fáil continues

Amid second election speculation, Leo Varadkar says ‘this couldn’t go on six more weeks’.

Updated 7.30pm

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has written to members of the Independent Alliance grouping seeking a meeting with all independent TDs involved in recent talks, along with Fianna Fáil.

He has also called this evening for an end to “Civil War politics” and offered to host a fresh round of discussions aimed at forming a new government next week.

It follows a call from the alliance of five TDs for Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to meet with them, together, as a matter of urgency.

In its statement this afternoon the grouping – which includes the likes of Michael Fitzmaurice, Finian McGrath and Shane Ross – said it was anxious to resolve the current deadlock in the government-formation talks and called for a meeting to take place in the next 24 hours.

“We believe it is imperative to clarify what position both parties will take regarding the formation of a minority government,” their statement said.

“We believe that both parties should be able to reach agreement on mutual support for at least three budgets, so as to provide the country with the stability which all parties have acknowledged is necessary.”

letter Source: Fine Gael

Responding, Enda Kenny said in a letter published on the Fine Gael website that he was prepared to host a meeting involving “all Independents involved in recent discussions, together with the Leader of Fianna Fail (sic)”.

The letter said:

“You are aware of my seriousness in attempting to form a government. In that regard I tabled a formal proposition for a full partnership government to include Independents and Fianna Fail.

This government would provide stability and a capacity to introduce 5 budgets over the coming years. I believe that this is in the best interests of our country and by far the best option open to all.

In a further statement, sent to media outlets this evening, Kenny said he hoped all those willing to participate in or support a ‘Partnership Government’ could come together to agree how it would work.

He said he was prepared to host a meeting “early next week” and that he intends to write “to all Independent TDs and to the Fianna Fail Leader to that effect”.

The Taoiseach’s statement said that the new political reality was difficult for all parties including Fine Gael “but ending civil war politics is the best thing for our country now”.

Micheál Martin has not yet publicly responded to the latest round of developments, but speaking to reporters at Leinster House this evening Shane Ross said he had received a response from the Fianna Fáíl leader and that Martin had said he was willing to meet the IA within the next 24 hours.

“It’s not clear at this stage whether he would include the Taoiseach in that or not,” Ross added.

Ross said “any play-acting” from the two largest parties would not be tolerated “and we will expose it if it occurs”.

Our invitation is a really genuine effort to get these talks going.

Offer rejected 

Following Fianna Fáil’s rejection of a partnership with Fine Gael this week the options for forming a government are becoming increasingly limited as the prospect of a second election looms.

The offer of a full partnership government, with a number of independent TDs, is still on the table, but Fianna Fáil has said it would not be in the national interest.

Some TDs are now forecasting another election with others predicting the two main parties will find a way, eventually, to bypass the old Civil War divide.

Meetings 

Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil held their own parliamentary party meetings yesterday.

In the Dáil canteen, Enda Kenny made an appearance, speaking to a number of independents, while some Fianna Fáil TDs appeared briefly to refuel before heading back to the war room.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Minister Leo Varadkar said he was “surprised at the haste with which they rejected” the offer.

His party would not support a Fianna Fáil minority government, he said, as they did not believe it was a viable option anyway. And a Fine Gael minority-led government would also have its complications.

“I think, at the very least we’d have to have a written agreement,” Varadkar told RTÉ, explaining that support for key policy issues would have to be guaranteed by Fianna Fáil before Fine Gael would feel comfortable leading this type of government.

Fianna Fáil is open to facilitating a Fine Gael minority government, TD Dara Calleary said this morning, though he did not say whether his party would be willing to sign any kind of agreement.

Six more weeks

Next week there will be another vote for Taoiseach and, again, Enda Kenny will be Fine Gael’s choice. If he loses for a third time, Varadkar said Kenny will persevere and try again a week later.

When asked how long the country could manage without a government, however, the health minister said:

It’s been six weeks, I don’t think it could go on for another six weeks.

For their part the independent TDs are beginning to lose patience. John Halligan (of the Independent Alliance) told Morning Ireland the “tantrums needed to stop”, but he said independents would remain open to working with the parties to form a government.

But the prospect of anyone being able to form a government is becoming ever more unlikely and with a tender issued for four million new polling cards this week, the country may need to prepare itself to go to the polls again.

- Additional reporting by Christina Finn and Daragh Brophy. First published 9.50am.

Read: Over before it even started: Enda and Micheál’s brief meeting ends with no plans for government>

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