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A bigger and buoyant Fianna Fáil was 'back in business' at Leinster House today

They haven’t gone away, you know.

Image: Sam Boal

THE NEWER AND larger Fianna Fáil parliamentary party gathered for the first time in Leinster House today amid a buoyant mood following its election success.

Micheál Martin’s party secured an unexpected 44 seats in last Friday’s general election. Many of the newly-elected TDs were in Leinster House for the first-time today, as well as old faces who’ve won back seats they lost in 2011.

The parliamentary party met for just under 90 minutes in Leinster House with the mood described as “exhilarating” by one TD who said there was a sense that Fianna Fáil is “very much back in business”.

Sources said afterwards there was no substantial discussion around the issue of coalition talks with Fine Gael or any other party.

3/3/2016. Election 2016 - Dail Arrivals. Members o Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Bay North Seán Haughey was back in Leinster House today Source: Leah Farrell

While some TDs believe there is a realistic prospect of Fianna Fáil being part of or even leading the next government – despite being the smaller party – others believe it will be in opposition.

“It’ll be a Fine Gael minority. There’ll be lots of talk, but we’re not going into government,” one senior Fianna Fáil said afterwards, predicting there will be another election in 18 months.

One TD said it would be a “long game” when it came to any government negotiations. Earlier the newly-elected Marc MacSharry told RTÉ’s News at One repeatedly that there are no negotiations underway with other parties.

Today’s meeting focussed on securing support for the election of Micheál Martin as Taoiseach when the 32nd Dáil meets for the first time next Thursday.

The party’s position on water charges was clarified with Fianna Fáil making clear it expects people to continue paying their bills as it is the law on the land, despite the party’s position that charges should be abolished.

3/3/2016. Election 2016 - Dail Arrivals. Members o Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill arriving at Leinster House today. Source: Leah Farrell

“People have to pay their charges. If they’ve bills, they must be honoured,” one TD said after the meeting.

Fianna Fáil has committed to abolishing Irish Water and suspending water charges for five years if in government.

Reports that the party would examine a future tax credit for the households who have already paid their bills have been dismissed and Fianna Fáil is not proposing to refund those who’ve already paid charges.

The whole water charges issue is likely to be key in any discussions with Fine Gael in the coming weeks.

Fianna Fáil also agreed to pick one nominee for the position of Ceann Comhairle with four TDs having made their interest known.

TDs Micheal Moynihan, Brendan Smith, Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher will all seek to be the party’s nominee for the position of Dáil chair.

A vote of the parliamentary party will select the nominee and this will be held when Fianna Fáil meets again on Monday at 3pm.

Read: Labour just had the worst election in its 104-year history

Read: These are the TDs in the mix for one of the most important jobs in the new Dáil

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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