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Coveney says 'we can't rule out' another general election

Members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are currently voting on whether or not to back the programme for government.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (right) and Tánaiste and Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney speak to the media at Government Buildings on 15 June.
Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar (right) and Tánaiste and Fine Gael deputy leader Simon Coveney speak to the media at Government Buildings on 15 June.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has said “we can’t rule out anything” when asked if another general election might be held.

Members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party are currently voting on whether or not to back the programme for government agreed by the three parties.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Coveney said the coalition, if formed, will be “balanced, strong and radical”.

If the deal is rejected, he said “we can’t rule out anything” including another election.

He said the programme for government provides “the certainty the country needs in a post-Covid environment”.

Coveney urged Fine Gael members to back to deal, stating: “Politics has changed and if Fine Gael defines itself by the past and its past relationship with Fianna Fáil, then I believe the electorate may move away from us. We have got to define ourselves by what we want for the future.”

He said the programme for government is “much more ambitious than we’ve ever been on climate, in particular”.

Carbon emissions 

Last week Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan, who helped to negotiate the deal, said she could not fully endorse it.

Hourigan, the Green Party’s finance spokesperson, said the deal does not do enough in terms of housing and deprivation.

She also criticised the Taoiseach and Tánaiste for saying the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets set out in the deal would happen in the second half of the decade.

Hourigan told the Tonight Show: “It’s very likely that that 7% will be back-loaded for 2026, 2027, ’28, and that there will be some attempt to force the government of the day to adhere to the decisions that were made in 2020.”

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Coveney said the 7% target is “one of the most ambitious” targets of any country in the world and will “set a trajectory that will lay the foundation for that kind of change over the first five years”.

He said, in his view, it’s “unlikely in first five years” to hit 7% but that the average will be reached over 10 years.

Coveney added that a coalition agreement is “a series of compromises, that is how coalitions work”, saying the programme will also help get people back to work and look after vulnerable people.

Coveney and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar held a Facebook Live where they answered questions about the programme last night.

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Órla Ryan

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