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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
PA Archive/Press Association Images
the word of the bert

This master dealmaker has some advice for Fianna Fáil about going in with Fine Gael

Patience is the message.

THREE-TIME TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern thinks we are still about five weeks away from seeing the next government starting to come together.

Speaking to Shane Coleman on Newstalk’s The Sunday Show, Ahern said he feels a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael deal is possible but that it’s ‘bottom of the list’.

Ahern, who also served in government Cabinets in the 1980s and 1990s before becoming Taoiseach in 1997, says that the process will ‘evolve’ over the next month before there’s any real movement.

This day four weeks you will be on the air Shane with whoever’s with you and you’ll find that the circumstances and the processes will have evolved. There will be be opinion polls, public opinion will change, that will all evolve over the next 3 or 4 weeks. It’s the way it always happens.

Ahern said Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin should be looking to become Taoiseach, but shouldn’t rush a deal to form an unstable government.

Listen, the day you go in to play a match to lose is a bad day. Micheál Martin will be going in to win and he should. My view is, if you go four weeks and three days from next Thursday you get to Monday 11 April and I think that would be the kind of week where they would need to form (a government).

“Trying to do some cobbling together (now), you’ll end up with some mish-mash thing that won’t last. Well, it will get out of this year because nobody wants and another election this year.”

Irish general election PA Wire / Press Association Images Micheal Martin has some thinking to do. PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

If he was attempting to form a government as Fianna Fáil leader now, he said that you’d go through “the list” over the next few weeks before you reach Fine Gael at the bottom.

So, you could go to the list and maybe a combination will work. Or maybe you go through the list and then you have to go to the back of the page. The back of the page would be Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael.You have to go through the list first, that will not happen quickly. And I think the more talk that this might happen Thursday or Friday or Saturday, then it won’t happen.

‘Extremely difficult’

Bertie Ahern wasn’t the only person today voicing doubts about the prospect of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael entering government.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said such an outcome would not be easy.

“I’d have enormous difficulty with that, firstly because both parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, were very adamant during the election that we wouldn’t do that,” he explained.

So departing from that would be a very big deal, we’d have to go back to our parliamentary parties and to our members. And as well as that, there is enormous mistrust between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and putting together a coalition would be extremely difficult.

Read: The Independent Alliance had a “constructive” meeting with Enda >

Read: How the three main parties lost their stranglehold on Irish politics – in just a decade >

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