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FF and FG are looking for another smaller party to join them in government. Niall Carson
Grand coalition

Framework document for new FF-FG government to be signed-off tomorrow

Both parties hope the document will convince smaller parties to enter government.

A FRAMEWORK DOCUMENT for a new government is expected to be finalised tomorrow.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil teams were due to meet today, but the meeting was postponed until tomorrow, where it is expected that the document for the grand coalition will be signed off on.

Both parties hope the document, which will be presented to the smaller political parties, will convince them to come on board and enter government.

Speaking this evening at Leinster House following a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said:

“I would anticipate that we should be in a position to agree to document tomorrow, between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael… I think it’s a strong document. It does point very much in the direction of greater state-led intervention in areas like child care, moving towards a single-tier health system and also … in terms of access to housing, public housing and affordable housing.”

Martin said he would like to think the “robust” document will “engage other parties”.

“I would ask for the parties to at least assess the document, have a look at the document, read the document, and engage. That obviously is a matter for the other parties, he said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said the policy positions in the document in terms of housing, health, and climate change should be viewed in the context of an economic recovery.

While Martin outlined some of the measures in the document, it is understood it also details measures to reduce rents, increasing places for re-skilling, short-term actions to speed up recovery, as well as keeping capital expenditure steady.

There are also a series of tax measures contained in the framework document, with a particular focus on supporting businesses, such as temporary VAT cuts across a number of worst affected sectors, such as tourism and hospitality. Rate cuts and money for cash-flow is also mentioned. 

‘Deeper recession’

“As the days and weeks go by, I think it’s becoming clearer that we might be looking at a much slower recovery, that this might be a deeper recession than maybe initially anticipated and that some sectors will find it difficult to just bounce back after the worst of COVID-19 is over,” he said. 

The Taoiseach is understood to have told party leaders that a global depression rather than an acute recession is likely to be experienced.

Martin said “rebooting the economy” can be done by utilising the country’s resources in order to deliver on housing, health, climate change and child care areas.

Ideally, a third party will be needed to form a government, he said. 

A government will need to last five years, said Martin, stating that economic decisions will have to be taken and a government that can take decisive actions in relation to the economy in particular will be needed

“That does mean a government that can command a majority,” he said.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said smaller parties often think that going in with larger parties will result in them being squeezed out in major policy decisions.

However, Coveney gave assurances that that would not be the case, stating that the smaller party that joins with FF-FG will “very much be part of shaping a programme for government”.

Name-checking Labour, the Green Party and the Social Democrats, the Tánaiste said whoever it is will be able to “put their stamp” on the next government.

Coveney said the framework document will surprise some of the smaller parties who have ruled themselves out of government formation. 

Meetings between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are understood to have also discussed how an olive branch can be extended to the smaller parties.

The Green Party and Labour have both stated that they are open to meeting other parties but both have also said they won’t enter government.

The fear for both parties is there is uncertainty around how engagement with the smaller parties will play out. As one source stated Eamon Ryan or Alan Kelly could say “thanks but no thanks” even without any draft document on priorities being shared. 

Both parties are understood to be open for the document priorities to be modified but Coveney has said the smaller parties might be “surprised” at just how “open” it is to some significant changes.

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