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Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil TDs to discuss forming coalition after leaders sign off on 'foundation document'

Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath said today there’s “undoubtedly” different opinions in his party on going into coalition with Fine Gael.

FF's Michael McGrath said the document agreed
FF's Michael McGrath said the document agreed "meets the challenge of our time".
Image: RollingNews.ie

FIANNA FÁIL’S FINANCE spokesperson Michael McGrath has said the “foundation document” of priorities agreed between his party and Fine Gael will form the basis of a negotiation with smaller parties on a programme for government.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, McGrath said there were “undoubtedly” different opinions in his party on whether it should go into coalition with Fine Gael and that a “full and frank” discussion will be held at all levels of Fianna Fáil on the matter.

Yesterday, Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin signed off on an agreed policy framework document.

“Full and equal partnership” between the two parties is at the centre of the agreement. 

The pre-coronavirus general election held on 8 February threw up an uncertain result, with Fianna Fáil emerging with 38 seats, Fine Gael with 35 and Sinn Féin with 37. Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled out a coalition with Sinn Féin, leaving Mary Lou McDonald’s party short on numbers to form a government. 

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael’s combined total also sees them fall short of the 80 required for a majority, meaning they need the support of at least one smaller party and potentially a number of independents to form a government.

Both sides have been talking for several weeks against the backdrop of the current Covid-19 crisis, with the so-called framework document setting out their priorities as they aim to persuade smaller parties to join them in government.

According to McGrath today, the document “sets out a new direction of policy” and reflects the issues Fianna Fáil went to the public with in February such as housing, health and education.

TDs in both parties will be sent the document this afternoon, before a meeting of parliamentary party members this evening. 

McGrath claimed that the document “meets the challenge of our time”, and said it will form the basis of inviting the Green Party, the Labour Party and the Social Democrats to more detailed discussions on a programme for government. 

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Asked if the agreement with Fine Gael would see Micheál Martin installed as Taoiseach, McGrath said that “we’re a long way off the formation of a government yet”. 

He added that parties should be in politics with a view of going into government and Fianna Fáil was prepared to work with others to achieve that. 

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Sean Murray

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