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Friday 31 March 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# And we're off
Talks latest: The big two parties had 90 mins of 'constructive and cordial' chats tonight
The Taoiseach confirmed the talks on formation of a minority government began tonight.

Updated 7.30pm

FORMAL TALKS BETWEEN Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have ended for this evening with both sides describing them as “constructive and cordial”.

The 90 minute meeting in the Sycamore Room in Government Buildings was held with a view to forming a minority government.

This evening’s discussions are the first substantial talks between the two main parties, and come over six weeks after the general election.

Each party brought four members as part of their negotiating teams. On the Fine Gael side, the party sent Frances Fitzgerald, Leo Varadkar, Paschal Donohoe and Simon Coveney.

Representing Fianna Fáil were Michael McGrath, Michael McConalogue, Barry Cowen and Jim O’Callaghan.

Both parties released identical statements following the meeting, saying that it lasted for an hour and a half and talks were “constructive and cordial”. They agreed to meet again tomorrow.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke briefly about the talks as he arrived for an event at the National Concert Hall earlier this evening.

“Initial talks taking place,” Kenny told reporters at the Dublin venue.

He didn’t stop to answer questions, but later addressed the efforts in more detail – making some late additions to his prepared speech.

The Fine Gael leader said the new political reality in the wake of the election was difficult for all political parties “including my own”.

A new way of doing politics was required “to provide stable national government,” he added. He said the election result required a “big, bold response”.

Both parties issued brief statements over the weekend, stating that formal discussions would begin this week following exploratory talks on Saturday.


Media briefing

The apparent breakthrough comes after a number of weeks of separate talks between FF and FG and independent TDs.

Last week, Fine Gael crossed the historical divide and offered Fianna Fáil an invitation to form a partnership government – or so-called grand coalition. This was quickly rejected by Fianna Fáil, however.

A meeting between Enda Kenny and Michéal Martin on Thursday ended after just 15 minutes, and until Saturday no new talks had been scheduled.

The Dáil will meet for the third time since the election on Thursday, when once again a vote will be held to elect a Taoiseach.

Independents involved in the talks around forming a government have said that they are happy the two parties are finally meeting.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said that he welcomed the renewed effort, but was anxious to hear about the practicalities of how a minority government would work.

“This has to happen to try and from a government,” Healy-Rae said.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald, Daragh Brophy and Rónán Duffy. 

Read: No deal: Fianna Fáil TDs overwhelmingly against partnership with Fine Gael

Read: Progress: FF and FG will meet to discuss minority government

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