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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 10 December, 2019

All-party financial talks remain up in the air

The Greens are confident, the Taoiseach is on board, but the opposition say nobody’s asked them.

The Green Party has insisted that the Taoiseach, despite his lukewarm comments last Friday, remains
The Green Party has insisted that the Taoiseach, despite his lukewarm comments last Friday, remains "on board" for all-party talks.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

OPPOSITION PARTIES have poured scorn on the Green Party’s insistence that all-party talks on the country’s budgetary strategy would begin soon, saying that they have yet to be invited to take part.

A spokesperson for Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said that, while he had spoken with Green minister John Gormley, there hadn’t been any discussion about a formal invitation being offered to participate in round-table talks.

Labour and Sinn Féin, meanwhile, said they hadn’t received any communication from either of the government parties – with the former saying it wasn’t sure if the initiative was one of the government as a whole or just of the Green Party working alone.

The comments came after Brian Lenihan last night declared a “united national effort” was needed to tackle the ongoing perilous state of the country’s finances.

The Greens, meanwhile, has reiterated Fianna Fáil’s for the project, which would see all parties represented in the Oireachtas taking part in discussions on the four-year budgetary strategy to be published in November.

Gormley said that Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s comments last Friday – in which he had apparently ruled out substantive talks with the opposition – had been “misinterpreted” and added that the Taoiseach was “on board” with the idea.

“He has a style of delivery, sometimes, which is less than effusive,” the environment minister said. Media analysis to Cowen’s response had focussed on “style and not substance”.

His comments were echoed by communications minister Eamon Ryan, who told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics last night that none of the other parties “had said ‘no’”.

“Understandably other parties have been cautious about it, but I believe they will each come in and see the sense in this in the national interest,” he said.

On the same show, Fine Gael transport spokesman Simon Coveney said his party would provide the “constructive” opposition needed but was firm that his party’s prospective involvement would not mean it backed any of the government’s plans.

“We’re not signing blank cheques for the government,” he said.

The budget strategy to be discussed at the talks, should they take place, will attempt to bring the government’s spending deficit to within 3% of GDP – the European Union’s limit – by 2014.

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Gavan Reilly

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