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Fine Gael meeting hears party 'wouldn't be worse off' by another election and might even pick up more seats

Concerned TDs also voiced concerns that Green Party policies would be a hard sell in rural Ireland.

Leo Varadkar spoke to Micheál Martin ahead of the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting today.
Leo Varadkar spoke to Micheál Martin ahead of the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting today.
Image: PA

A NUMBER OF Fine Gael TDs are understood to have said the party “doesn’t have a whole lot to fear” from another general election. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today briefed his Fine Gael parliamentary party about his meeting with Fianna Fáil leader yesterday. 

Varadkar spoke to Martin ahead of the meeting this afternoon and agreed to hold a one-day policy seminar between the two parties which is being viewed as an escalation in the talks process. 

However, by not moving to appoint a Fine Gael negotiating team almost three weeks after the general election, Varadkar is sticking to his position that his party should prepare to be in Opposition. 

Some TDs have said they expect the dance between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to continue for a number of weeks, eventually concluding with a coalition being set up between the two parties, as well as the Green Party.  

However, there were a number of TDs, including Communications Minister Richard Bruton, who argued that Fine Gael should not go into government. 

While the mood in the party is that Fine Gael is vying for the Opposition benches, a growing number of Fine Gael TDs openly spoke at their party meeting about another general election being held.

It is understood that a number of people told the meeting that they “are up for another election” – something that wasn’t being said at last week’s meeting, said one TD. 

A handful of Fine Gael deputies said they “don’t have a whole lot to fear from another election”, said another. 

Others are believed to have said they “wouldn’t be worse off” by another election, believing that Fine Gael might pick up some seats in another general election. 

However, another said while there was mention of another election during the party meeting, they don’t believe when things get serious that there is much appetite to go to the polls again. 

The parliamentary party also heard concerns about a coalition involving Green Party policies, with some TDs concerned that once the talks get into the “nitty-gritty” the big disparities would emerge and would be a hard sell for rural TDs in the party.  

The meeting also heard from members who said that Fine Gael would not be “pushed into” a grand coalition by commentators, while one TD said that now is not the time for the party to be looking “inwards”. 

With election talk featuring in today’s parliamentary party meeting, TDs have said they can see such a narrative and discussion growing in the weeks ahead as the talks go on. 

After the party’s marathon meeting last week, Varadkar said he didn’t see a grand coalition with Fianna Fail happening. 

He repeated what he stated during the election campaign, that “it’s a last resort”, but added that “it shouldn’t come to that”.

If Sinn Féin cannot gather the numbers and Fine Gael steps away from the prospect of a coalition, another election may well be on the cards. 

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said today that his party does not want a second election. 

“That would be a major failure in relation to politics and it would not be of our doing,” he said. 

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