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Kelly ‘doesn’t believe’ Labour will enter coalition, but Tánaiste says framework doc might change their response

Simon Coveney said parties might ‘pause for thought and perhaps change their approach’ when they read the document.

Labour leader Alan Kelly
Labour leader Alan Kelly

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has said political parties who have ruled themselves out of government formation, such as Labour, might change their mind once they see the framework document Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are drafting.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said today he does not expect his party to enter a new government coalition.

The newly-elected leader said the party is not in a position to enter government with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. However, Kelly did not rule out supporting a government under a confidence and supply arrangement.

He said that while Labour will “talk to anybody who wants to talk to us”, the focus is on the parties that secured a large number of seats.

Speaking to RTE’s Morning Ireland programme, Kelly said: “Simply put, there are four large parties, any three of which could form a government. It is up to them to do so.

“The Green Party got a large mandate of 12 seats, and obviously climate change is the big agenda item once we get over Covid.

“It’s quite disappointing that it seems that they are not willing to put their shoulders to the wheel and stay on the pitch and get involved in this.”

Speaking to RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show, Coveney said the framework document, which should be ready by the end of the week, might change how Labour and other smaller parties view of entering government. 

FF-FG framework document

“Lets see how he [Alan Kelly] responds to the document when we send it to him,” said the Tánaiste.

He added that smaller parties might “pause for thought and perhaps change their approach” when they read it.

He said the smaller parties have to think about whether they want to play a constructive role in forming a government, stating that when the public health emergency is over, and there is a period of reflection, they will be asked what role they played “in a constructive sense”.

Coveney said the framework document, which deals with taxation, housing, social welfare and other items, “makes very clear broad commitments” about what role government will play. He said “when they see how serious we are about changing the role of government” he hopes other parties will come on board.

Government formation talks between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are still ongoing. The two parties are meeting again today to work on the framework document.

While all eyes have been on Kelly since his election as Labour leader at the weekend, Kelly said the Labour party will play a “huge part” in shaping Ireland’s recovery.

“I think the world has changed. I think politics has changed,” he added.

“It’s amazing that Keynesian economics is back in fashion.

“I think the way in which Ireland is going to have to come out of this is going to have to embrace a lot of things that the Labour Party stood for over the last number of years, in relation to housing and childcare, in relation to a one-tier health system, in relation to a rent freeze, which I’ve advocated for many years.”

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Kelly also said that even if Labour added its six seats, there still would not be enough to form a majority government.

He added: “It’s my job to ensure we will not be swamped, we will be different and I aspire to doing so, to making us very, very relevant, punching way above our weight into the future, but I also want to say we need a strong opposition into the future.”

He said there is a need for a strong opposition as the Government is going to have to make difficult decisions.

Coveney said that post this crisis Ireland “will be a different place” stating that the role of the state and the private sector will be “different”.

He again ruled out Sinn Fein in government, stating that he doesn’t believe that a national government will last, adding that the last thing the country needs is another election in Autumn.

“Nobody should fool themselves that recovering from this is going to be easy,” said the Tánaiste, stating that 130,000 workers are getting 70% of their wages paid by the state.

“We have never faced anything like this… none of this is going to be easy,” he said.

Coveney predicted that there could be a rising of the tide in the summertime, but he said the next government will have to ensure that the tide “will lift all boats”. He concluded by stating that Ireland will have borrow a lot of money to get through this, and it will have to manage significant deficits.

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