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Coalition 2016?

What on earth is going on here?

It was all smiles and handshakes at Dublin Castle this morning.

16/7/2015 L TO R, Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader E Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

THEY MAY BE at loggerheads on just about everything, but there was a rare outbreak of cordiality between Enda Kenny and Gerry Adams at Dublin Castle this morning.

The Fine Gael and Sinn Féin leaders shook hands prior to the start of the National Economic Dialogue which is taking place over the next two days.

The forum will be discussing the social and economic future of the country in the lead up to the next Budget with politicians from all sides, unions, employers, farmers and other interest groups contributing.

The government has been at pains to point out this is not a return to the much-criticised social partnership, which collapsed in 2009, and has insisted this is about an open dialogue on the future of the country.

Addressing the plenary session of the forum this morning, Enda Kenny recommitted to introducing a package of budget measures of up to €1.5 billion in the October budget evenly divided between tax cuts and spending increases.

National Economic Dialogue. Pictured A Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Despite a better than expected improvements in the public finances, Kenny said the budget adjustment would not go beyond the parameters of between €1.2 billion and €1.5 billion.

We are never going back to the ‘when we have it we spend it’ approach to budget management of previous Governments.

As for Adams, he would not be drawn on the detail of his party’s pre-budget submission, but said that Sinn Féin is at today’s forum to provide “an alternative voice”.

“We’re here to be the alternative voice to ensure this isn’t just another platform running into the election for the government, to argue for a fair recovery. We don’t see that, we think this government has made all the same mistakes Fianna Fáil did.

With a mutual dislike of Fianna Fáil there is surely some ground for coalition negotiations between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin?

After all, Enda and Gerry were getting on famously this morning by the look of these pictures:

National Economic Dialogue. Pictured A Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

But all good things must come to an end…

National Economic Dialogue. Pictured A Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Read: ‘We’ve a new Troika in town’: Joan doesn’t think much of the new party

State of the Nation: The return of Bertie Ahern

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