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Enda Kenny offers Micheál Martin a full partnership government as leaders finally talk

The meeting between Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin began at 8.30pm.

Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated 10.05pm 

AFTER 40 DAYS, Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin finally sat down to talk tonight.

It is believed the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaders began their meeting at 8.30pm on neutral ground in government buildings.

During the course of what was said to be a “positive and constructive” hour-long meeting, Fine Gael sources say that Kenny offered a full partnership government involving Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and independent TDs.

The offer would provide a stable government, the sources said, with the details still to be worked out.

Fianna Fáil said that Kenny confirmed his belief that a Fine Gael minority-led government or a Fianna Fáil minority-led government would not work and that a full partnership government would be his preferred option.

The two leaders agreed to meet again tomorrow prior to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meeting at 11am, where Martin will discuss the offer from Kenny and other options with his TDs.

Earlier, Kenny met with Fine Gael’s senior and junior ministers where they backed his decision to make the offer to Martin.

Today’s Dáil vote saw both Kenny and Martin failing to secure a majority of votes to be elected Taoiseach.

Now pressure is mounting on the two party leaders to have a serious discussion as to whether they can govern the country together.

Meeting on neutral ground

Speaking in the Dáil today, Kenny said Fine Gael is still committed to forming a government and asked Martin to oblige him by meeting with him this evening.

He said it was about “building a relationship of trust” and he was willing to be as “generous, flexible and negotiating” as possible.

Today, Kenny said Fine Gael had been in “worthwhile” discussions lasting over 50 hours with various groupings in the past few weeks. However last week, Kenny and Martin agreed they would meet following the conclusion of those discussions and the vote itself today.

Martin said he had no difficulty in sitting down for discussions with Kenny, but said he shouldn’t have to hear about the meeting in the newspapers.

“I would respectfully suggest, the briefings have to stop… the manipulation of opinion has to stop,” he said.

Core principles on Irish Water

So, is a Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil government a real possibility?

Back in March, Fianna Fáil environment spokesperson Barry Cowen insisted his party would not enter government with Fine Gael, with other TDs in the past holding strong on that ideal.

One thing for sure is Irish Water and water charges will be a key issue in tonight’s talks.

Fianna Fáil says it has legislation drafted that would see Irish Water dismantled and water charges suspended.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Frances Fitzgerald said it was “unhelpful” to talk about things such as red line issues when discussions are ongoing, but added:

We have core principles in relation to Irish Water.

She said Fine Gael were in favour of a single utility and said scrapping water charges would be in breach of an EU directive. She also said that rolling back on water charges would come at a huge cost, but conceded she had not seen Fianna Fáil’s bill and what it entailed.

Fitzgerald would not be drawn on the possible outcome from the talks tonight, but said she would expect further discussions to follow.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

Read: Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin lose vote to become next Taoiseach >

Read: TDs vote to give themselves another 8 days off >

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