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Dublin: 2 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Day 66: Talks continue but Independents warn not to expect a government this week

Independent Alliance TD Michael Fitzmaurice said that the prospect of reaching a deal this week “would be pushing it”.

more talks Members of the Independent Alliance as well as Fine Gael arrive at government buildings for talks this morning Source: RollingNews.ie

GOVERNMENT FORMATION TALKS are continuing this morning, with representatives from Fine Gael meeting members of the Independent Alliance in the hopes of garnering enough support to form a minority government.

Following on from Friday’s agreement with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael now need the support of six more Independents in order to be able to form a minority government.

However, the Independent Alliance has poured cold water over the idea that a government could be formed by Thursday, with one TD saying that there was still much to be discussed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Independent Alliance TD for Roscommon-Galway Michael Fitzmaurice said that the prospect of reaching a deal this week “would be pushing it”.

“It will take whatever length it takes to go through the different items,” said Fitzmaurice.

“Obviously people know that… 31 different policies were discussed with Fianna Fáil. That took them two weeks.

Now I’m not saying that this is going to take two weeks. What I’m saying is there is no good coming out with rash statements saying we will be ready Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday. This is sort of a game of basically trying to pressurise people into situations.

Fitzmaurice was responding to comments made by Defence Minister Simon Coveney to RTÉ News yesterday – where he said that he hoped a government could be formed by Thursday.

4/4/2016 Talks on Forming a New Government Michael Fitzmaurice (File photo) Source: RollingNews.ie

“Stuff like that isn’t a great thing to do in fairness and in my opinion probably isn’t workable,” said Fitzmaurice.

He also said that he “would be surprised” if we had a Taoiseach elected by Thursday, as there was still much policy that the Independents needed to discuss.

Health

Fitzmaurice also referenced comments made yesterday by his fellow Independent Alliance TD John Halligan.

Halligan said on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics yesterday that Health Minister Leo Varadkar had been “a hindrance” on the government talks.

Varadkar and Halligan had been engaged in discussions on bringing improvements – including a cardiac unit – to Waterford University Hospital, in turn for the Waterford TD’s support.

download John Halligan on The Week in Politics yesterday Source: RTÉ Screengrab

Halligan has stated repeatedly that he will not support a Fine Gael minority government without significant guarantees from the party with regards to improvements in the hospital.

However, in a statement yesterday a spokesperson for Varadkar said that decisions where specialist centres are located should be made on the basis of expert review, and “not as a consequence of a political deal”.

Fitzmaurice today said that both Halligan and Varadkar had had different ideas of what was understood between them.

“Let’s not jump to conclusions. Relationships have been strained to a certain extent,” he said, but said that what exactly was on offer would “be ironed out” in the negotiations.

After the meeting this morning, Fine Gael are reportedly due to meet the so-called rural alliance of TDs this evening.

Read: “I think that the suspension is a mistake” – FF and FG TDs still split over water charges

Read: We almost have a government: Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have agreed a deal

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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