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Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Julien Behal/PA Wire Enda Kenny will appoint a negotiation team this morning ahead of likely discussions with Labour.
# GE11
Kenny called Eamon Gilmore 'to discuss coalition'
Enda Kenny will this morning begin the task of trying to form a new government – and began by calling Labour last night.

Updated, 10.26

FINE GAEL leader and Taoiseach-in-waiting Enda Kenny will today begin the task of trying to form a new government, ahead of the first meeting of the new Dáil next week.

The Mayo TD is to prioritise reaching agreement with the Labour Party on a potential programme for government, but Kenny also has the option of trying to pitch a deal to right-leaning independent TDs.

Fine Gael is likely to emerge with 77 seats, when the twelve outstanding seats in the 31st Dáil are filled as counts continue in the two Galway constituencies, Laois-Offaly and Wicklow.

That total would mean the party would only need to attract six similarly-minded independents, of the 12 or 13 who may win seats, in order to leave Labour on the opposition benches – though it would likely need seven, with a non-voting Ceann Comhairle likely to come from the government benches.

RTÉ News and Newstalk have confirmed this morning that Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore have spoken on the phone to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition together.

Newstalk’s Paraic Gallagher added that the two leaders were to meet later today – when their negotiating teams were also likely to be formed ahead of a week of negotiations.

FG communications spokesman Leo Varadkar yesterday insisted that governing with independents was still a realistic alternative for Fine Gael, while this morning the justice spokesman Alan Shatter also refused to be drawn on the party’s preferred option.

It was the prerogative of Kenny as the party’s leader to make the first move on whether to open talks with Labour or seek to stage a solo run, though Shatter intimated that his preference would be for the greater stability of a pact with Labour, who seem set to emerge with 36 or 37 seats.

Both Fine Gael and Labour have indicated that their desires are for stable government – indicating that a coalition is the most probable option.