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Prospect of 'two hour oration' from President may have focused minds

A veteran FF negotiator says Michael D would have chased Enda back to the Dáil to knock heads together.
Apr 10th 2016, 7:59 PM 42,872 117

FIANNA FÁIL AND FINE Gael rolled out two of their ‘big guns’ for appearances on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics today, ahead of fresh talks between the two Civil War parties in the coming week.

The two parties released statements last evening confirming fresh talks on a possible minority government arrangement, following days of maneuvering from the two sides in the wake of FF’s rejection of a ‘partnership’ deal from acting taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Meanwhile, a veteran Fianna Fáil negotiator noted that the prospect of a two hour “oration” from President Michael D Higgins in the event of him being asked to dissolve the Dáil and call a fresh election may have focused minds.

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What’s going on? 

Martin turned down Kenny’s offer of a partnership plan in the wake of the Dáil failing to elect a Taoiseach at the second time of asking on Wednesday.

That was followed by calls from Independent Alliance TDs for the two leaders to meet with them, together, and clarify their stances on a minority arrangement.

After a quiet morning and afternoon on the government-forming front yesterday, similar FF and FG statements were issued after 6pm, both confirming talks on “how a viable minority government would work”.

Speaking on the The Week in Politics, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary said he believed we were now entering the “end game” in terms of forming a new administration. Earlier on, speaking to Marian Finucane, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald had called for the two parties to end the “shenanigans” and sort out their differences.

ffitz Frances Fitzgerald

Also appearing on TWIP, Frances Fitzgerald, the acting justice minister, said her party was still interested in a partnership arrangement and that that proposal remained on the table.

Asked several times whether they were willing to talk about a Fianna Fáil led minority or would only discuss one with Fine Gael in the driving seat, she said “we’re going in to have a conversation about what a minority government would look like and what are the key elements that would enable a minority government to continue”.

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She stressed that Fine Gael was in the best position to form a minority government as it had the most seats. Asked whether they had any pre-conditions, Fitzgerald said that wasn’t the “right language” to be using at this point.

Asked whether the deal could be completed by Thursday when the Dáil will once again try to elect a Taoiseach she said “I think it’s possible” but stressed “there is a lot of work to be done”.

Speaking on the same programme veteran FF TD and senator Martin Mansergh, who played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process and in coalition negotiations for the party, said the prospect of a strong rebuke from the President may have prompted the fresh talks.

He said that if Enda Kenny went to the Áras to ask for a fresh election, President Higgins was likely to say ‘no’ and then “hot foot after him to Leinster House” and “give an oration of at least two hours as to why the different parties should pull themselves together and provide a government”.

Originally posted 2pm. 

Read: FF and FG will meet to discuss minority government

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Daragh Brophy


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