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Dublin: 19 °C Monday 1 June, 2020

Fianna Fáil TDs suggest all-party 'national government' to tackle Covid-19 threat

A government spokesperson said that any new government wouldn’t make it easier to deal with Covid-19.

Image: RTÉ/The Week In Politics

THERE HAVE BEEN calls for all political parties to form a temporary “national government” until September to tackle the Covid-19 threat in Ireland.

The Irish Daily Mail reported this morning that Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart has suggested forming a national government between all parties, as the current caretaker government has lost its mandate.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics, Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Jim O’Callaghan said that he wouldn’t rule any party in or out, and that his party was perhaps too quick to dismiss Sinn Féin during the election.

“Maybe we were too definitive about that, but we said it, we said the same about Fine Gael. However, I think we all need to get together to form a government,” he said.

He also called on Labour to consider reversing its decision to rule out going into government.

O’Callaghan had been adamant about not going into government with Sinn Féin, saying that he made a promise to voters, and claiming that Sinn Féin’s economic policies would turn Ireland “into Venezuela”.

When asked about the threat of Covid-19, O’Callaghan said that “we should be certainly looking at flight bans” from northern Italy.

O’Callaghan said that given there’s a fine imposed on those in northern Italy who break the quarantine, “there must me a EU wide response”.

We have regulations introduced in 2006 with respect to free movement [meaning] we can restrict free movement if it’s required for the purposes of public health. 
We need to start invoking the regulations and working with the Italian government and the EU to ensure that the spread which exists in northern Italy doesn’t extend beyond.

When asked about a Sunday Times story that reported that O’Callaghan was being pressured to oust Micheál Martin as Fianna Fáil leader, he replied “no and no.”

“It’s such a secret plot that I never heard about it until I was contacted about it yesterday.

“I’m happy with Micheál Martin’s leadership, if anyone isn’t happy, they can say that,” he said, adding that the party should be focusing on the coronavirus, health and housing and not “navel gazing”. 


This evening, a government spokesperson said that “the appointment of a new government would not make it any easier to deal with Covid-19 in the short term”.

The spokesperson stressed that a new Cabinet sub-committee on coronavirus will meet tomorrow and opposition parties are being briefed regularly. 

“It would mean over a hundred people taking up new roles across Government, many of whom would have no prior experience of Government or their new role, and would have to devote time to read into their new brief,” the spokesperson said. 

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