The Politics: The 'new political reality' hits FG TDs
Published 04/05/2016 | 02:30
As Micheál Martin marched onto the Leinster House plinth last night with a small bunch of TDs in tow, he didn't have the look of a man who had just emerged from a four-hour meeting.
He was claiming a deal "broadly encompassing key policies of our manifesto".
The downside of having a much larger parliamentary party is that when it comes to any big decisions, everybody wants to have their say.
The vote in favour of the document entitled 'A Confidence and Supply Arrangement for a Fine Gael-Led Government' was ultimately unanimous - but some TDs had reservations.
They would have liked to have seen a bit more detail on how the health crisis was going to be resolved or proper figures on the number of social housing units that were going to be built. However, the mood was overwhelmingly good.
The key line for many of Mr Martin's backbenchers is that Fine Gael "accept that Fianna Fáil is an independent party in opposition and is not a party to the Programme for Government".
They will still be able to bring forward their own policy proposals in the Dáil and seek to introduce private member bills that are in line with their manifesto commitments.
Fianna Fáil in turn agreed to abstain in the election of Taoiseach, and the nomination of ministers.
The party will facilitate Budgets consistent with agreed policy principles, and will vote against or abstain on any motions of no confidence in the Government.
The big win for Fianna Fáil is, of course, on water charges which are suspended for now. Fine Gael TDs also signed off on the deal without any big rows but they are still trying to come to terms with this new political reality.
The arrangement will be reviewed at the end of 2018, but this does mean Fine Gael is likely to have bought three years of power. The parties promised one another "an open approach to avoid policy surprises". And if a situation arises that threatens the agreement, it will be down to the two party leaders to try and thrash things out.