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Leo Varadkar: Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil could agree basis for government by next week

“We hope certainly this week, or next week, to agree a joint document with them,” the Taoiseach said.

Image: Photojoiner

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR said today that he expects Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to agree “a joint-document” this week or next week, and that this will be used as the foundation upon which smaller parties may help form a FF-FG government. 

Speaking to reporters today, Varadkar said that after the election, Fine Gael had “stepped back” to allow other parties, ie Sinn Féin, attempt to form a government. 

“They weren’t successful, and as a result of that we’ve now stepped in to try and work with other parties to form a government,” he said.

There are discussions underway with Fianna Fáil at the moment.
We hope certainly this week, or next week, to agree a joint document with them.
And that will then allow us to approach third parties like the Labour Party, or the Greens, or the Social Democrats to see if they would be willing to form a government.

The result of the 8 February election was an historic one: with Sinn Féin candidates winning 37 seats, their largest election haul in the history of the State. 

Fianna Fáil won 38 seats, which was the highest number, but after Sean Ó Fearghaíl was re-elected Ceann Comhairle, it’s brought them to 37 – on par with Sinn Féin.

Fine Gael won 35 seats, while the Green Party returned 12 seats, Labour and the Social Democrats have 6 each, Solidarity-People Before Profit on 5, Independents4Change on 1, and Aontú on 1.

A majority of 80 – half of the 160 TDs – is needed to form a government, unless a party agrees to abstain on votes to allow a minority government to form, as was the case in the last government.

Varadkar said that the next government needed to be a stable one, to deal with the economic and societal fallouts from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Because we believe that what’s going to be required is a government that’s going to last four to five years, that can deal with this crisis, the recovery and putting our society and economy back together when we’ve got past this health crisis.

“And that will require three parties and probably the support of independents as well.”

He said that this work was “a few weeks away” from completion.

Responding to queries about how legislation cannot be passed at the moment, Varadkar said that “as things stand we don’t have any requirement to pass any primary legislation”.

“A new Seanad is being elected at the moment and the votes are being cast. But there’s no legislation that we need done at the moment. So that’s not a particular concern but it is an issue that could arise in the next couple of weeks.”

But I also think people understand that the number one priority for all of us who are ministers in this government has to be dealing with Covid-19. And that is our priority.

In a joint statement released this afternoon, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil sent out the following statement:

“Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil met this afternoon, and had a positive meeting and discussion on policy issues. They both agreed to keep the dialogue confidential and will be in contact over the next few days.”

- with reporting from Christina Finn

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