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Full week of meetings as FG and FF step up government formation talks with Green Party

The formal negotiations are set to last until the end of the month.

Government formation talks are underway today.
Government formation talks are underway today.
Image: PA

GOVERNMENT FORMATION TALKS have stepped up a gear this week with negotiating teams from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party meeting today.

A week of substantive talks on forming a new government is getting underway, with two or three meetings per day due to take place at Agriculture House on Kildare Street.

The topics up for discussion, as per the policy framework document, focus on a number of areas such as renewing the economy, universal healthcare, housing for all, forming a new social contract as well as a new Green deal.

Each party has a negotiating team and this week those teams will be supplemented with party spokespeople, depending on the topic up for discussion, as well as special advisers.

The formal talks are all happening against the backdrop of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael inviting the Labour Party to participate in the next government.

Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar wrote to the Labour leader Alan Kelly to consider their proposals with a view to holding a meeting.

Reacting to the letter today, Kelly said:

“I have received a response from the Leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. I will discuss it with my colleagues in the Parliamentary Party over the coming days.

“It is clear Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are now united on economic policy and have taken a position on taxation which is concerning to us, however I do welcome their commitment that the next Government would honour the existing public service pay deal. We will respond in more detail to the policy issues in the letter later in the week.

“I welcome the acknowledgement by the leaders, of our view on government formation. There are four parties with more TDs in the Dáil than the Labour Party, and any three of those can form a government with a majority.”

He said detailed negotiations are now underway on government formation between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party, and if successful that coalition would command a majority in the Dáil.

“We respect the mandate of the participants, and for now they should be given the space and time to reach a conclusion,” said Kelly.

While talks are ongoing, each party still has to grapple with the mounting concerns being expressed at grassroots level.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that Fine Gael leadership cannot ignore the fears of members, particularly farmers, who are worried about a number of the Green deal initiatives that might be rolled out if they enter into government with the Green Party.

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Concerns have also been expressed within Fianna Fáil, notably from people in rural areas.

However, a Fianna Fáil source close to the talks said the Green Party would be foolish to pass up on the opportunity to enter government now, adding that their membership wouldn’t thank them for passing up the chance of making real change. They added that the party might not get another opportunity for many years to come.

With talks set to last until end of the month, any deal reached will have to go to the membership of all parties.

Under their separate rules, each party must get the approval of members for any programme for government.

The Green Party faced challenges within the party even getting to the stage of formal talks, but the real challenge will be later on when a two-thirds majority will be needed to approve any government deal. 

“It will be a while yet” before we reach that stage, said one source. 

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