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Green Party will enter coalition talks with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

The leaders of FG and FF have both welcomed this development.

Green TDs on the plinth in Leinster House in February.
Green TDs on the plinth in Leinster House in February.
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Updated May 3rd 2020, 8:14 PM

THE GREEN PARTY has confirmed it will enter talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael with a view to forming a coalition government.

The party – which won 12 seats in February – had held talks among its TDs earlier today on the prospect of forming the next government. 

It said in a statement that it is conscious of the huge challenges facing any government during the Covid-19 crisis.

It said: “Green Party approval of any programme for government will require support of 2/3 of the Green Party voting membership. 

“Any proposal must be transformative on climate action and commit to strong progress towards a more sustainable and fairer society.

If this is not the case Green Party representatives will withdraw from negotiations and pursue their mandate in opposition and work to hold the government to account.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his party looks forward to “constructive discussions” between the parties in the coming days. 

“Working together we can help to deal with the challenges facing Ireland, including getting people back to work, re-opening businesses, investing in and transforming our health service, housing system, childcare, climate action, balanced regional development and enlivening communities in rural Ireland,” Varadkar said in a statement. 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he is “confident” the three parties will be able to agree a programme for government. 

“I am confident that working with Fine Gael and the Green Party we will be able to negotiate and agree a programme for government that protects people and ensures that the country’s economic recovery after Covid-19 is commenced as soon as possible and built on fairness,” he said in a statement. 

“There is important legislation that needs to be passed to allow Irish businesses to access finance and there needs to be a government in place to do this.”

The party leader said Fianna Fáil will approach these negotiations “constructively and confidently”. 

Fine Gael, in particular, has been attempting to court the Greens in recent days with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show he was keen on meeting one of the party’s redline targets – a 7% reduction in carbon emissions.

The party currently in power during the Covid-19 crisis has also sought to emphasise that it is urgent a new government is formed, given that emergency legislation aimed at supporting businesses affected by the pandemic needs a new government in place for that to be enacted. 

Health Minister Simon Harris told TheJournal.ie: “I do hope we can form a new government in this country. The current government is working as hard as it possibly can, but it’s not a sustainable position for an awful lot longer.

I really hope the Greens do accept the offer to engage with the leader of my party and the leader for Fianna Fáil. I think that would be a place where an awful lot of detail could be worked through.

In a statement this evening, the youth wing of the Green Party said it noted the development with “disappointment”. 

It said: “In 2007, the Green Party campaigned to remove Fianna Fáil from office, before making the historic mistake to enter government with them – their ‘deal with the devil’. We now see history repeating itself.”

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With Fianna Fáil (37 seats), Fine Gael (35) and the Greens (12) together, they would exceed the 80 seats required for a majority in the Dáil. The Green Party last entered government a decade ago, when in 2007 it formed a coalition with Fianna Fáil. 

Sinn Féin – which won 37 seats at the last election – have been ruled out as coalition partners by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on numerous occasions. 

Varadkar told The Late Late Show that a new government could be in place by June.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy has accused Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of “working to a plan to exclude Sinn Féin from government and to ignore our mandate for some time”. 

“Both of them in government together – no matter who they are propped up by – is not what people voted for and will not deliver the change that people voted for in February’s general election,” Carthy said today, responding to the Green Party’s decision.  

With reporting from Christina Finn 

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Sean Murray

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