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After weekend row, Varadkar, Martin and Ryan sat down for talks on government formation today

Fine Gael accused some Fianna Fáil TDs of “damaging” the talks process at the weekend.

pjimage (6) Clockwise from top: Leo Varadkar, Eamon Ryan and Micheál Martin

THE LEADERS OF the three parties who look set to form the next government met for two hours this morning, and they’ve indicated it is hoped to have a programme for government concluded by the end of the month.

Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar, Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin and the Green Party’s Eamon Ryan “reaffirmed their commitment to successfully concluding the talks and negotiating in good faith” according to a joint statement released this afternoon. 

It is now 100 days since the general election in early February. In that election, Fianna Fáil emerged with 38 seats, Fine Gael with 35 and the Greens with 12. Sinn Féin won 37 but the two other largest parties have ruled out forming a government with Mary Lou McDonald’s party. 

The meeting today comes following a row at the weekend emerging between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. 

Fianna Fáil TDs Barry Cowen and Thomas Byrne criticised contingency plans that are in motion for another general election.

It had been confirmed that Minister Eoghan Murphy and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government were putting in place plans of how an election could be held in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

Cowen tweeted that “if true, it smacks of bad faith, selfishness and putting party before country”. 

Fine Gael defended its contingency planning and accused the Fianna Fáil TDs of “damaging” government formation talks. 

It said in a statement: “The fact that this prompted an attack on Fine Gael by two senior Fianna Fáil spokespeople was unwarranted and has damaged the talks process.”

While talks between the negotiating teams of the three parties is set to resume this week, concerns are said to be mounting that even if the parties agree to a programme for government, they might have trouble convincing grassroots members to sign up to a coalition.

Each party must get approval from their respective members if they are going to enter into government together. 

In the joint statement from the three party leaders, it said it is hoped to have a draft programme for government ready by the end of the month when it will then be put to the members of each individual party.

The statement added: “The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to successfully concluding the talks and to negotiating in good faith.

They reaffirmed that the talks will remain confidential and a running commentary will not be provided to the media from any of the parties on matters being discussed in the talks.

With reporting from Christina Finn

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