Saturday 10 December 2016

Soc Dems warn FF-FG must 'accept reality' as they leave talks

Published 16/03/2016 | 02:30

Ms Murphy, who is co-leader of the party, said following discussions with her colleagues Roisin Shortall and Stephen Donnelly, they decided to end all engagements with Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin
Ms Murphy, who is co-leader of the party, said following discussions with her colleagues Roisin Shortall and Stephen Donnelly, they decided to end all engagements with Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin

The Social Democrats have pulled out of any further talks with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil about forming a government.

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Dealing a blow to both parties' hopes of being able compile the numbers for a minority government, Catherine Murphy said last night they were "only postponing the inevitable".

Ms Murphy, who is co-leader of the party, said following discussions with her colleagues Roisin Shortall and Stephen Donnelly, they decided to end all engagements with Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin.

"It is clear there is no possibility of either a majority or a minority government without some agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and we would actively encourage the two parties to accept that reality," Ms Murphy said.

"Any discussions regarding policies are meaningless until Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have made a decision about whether or not they can work together in some form of arrangement."

The Social Democrats made the announcement just hours after meeting with Fianna Fáil's negotiating team of Michael McGrath, Barry Cowen, Charlie McConalogue and Jim O'Callaghan.

Fianna Fáil also held talks with the Green Party yesterday, who said afterwards that they intend to continue the dialogue.

Green leader Eamon Ryan told the Irish Independent the discussions were useful but didn't lead to any major breakthroughs.

"It was really just a general chat around the economic situation and looking at the various issues that will face the next government," he said.

Mr Ryan added that all parties should engage in talks about how to form a stable government, although he's "still no wiser as to how that might happen".

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney was meeting rural members of the Independent Alliance in Athlone on behalf of Fine Gael.

Mr Coveney also met with independents Denis Naughten, Mattie McGrath, Noel Grealish, Michael Harty and Michael Collins.

Mr Naughten described it as a "constructive" meeting but stressed that the five are not a grouping.

"We did meet in the one room at the same time but we're all still independents," he said.

The Roscommon TD added that he told the minister he is "in the process to try to bring about a stable government".

From Washington, Enda Kenny sought to put pressure onto Fianna Fáil, saying each TD in that party had a responsibility to try and form a government.

The Fine Gael leader said he has not spoken to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin but said he invited all "like-minded" parties to speak with him about establishing a government ahead of the Dáil sitting on March 22.

"I invited all parties publicly in the Dáil the other evening to work with us to put together a lasting, working government for the people and that includes all like-minded parties," he said.

"Obviously, Fianna Fáil as one party has responsibilities, each of their deputies have to work in the regard. But I make the point, as the largest party with the largest vote in the Dáil, we have got a mandate and responsibility to work towards putting that government together," he added.

He said Fine Gael expect to finish initial talks with independents and smaller parties next week and should then have "the basis for negotiations and discussions about putting a government together".

The Social Democrats do intend to continue working with the proposed all-party committee on political reform which is due to meet and bring proposals to the Dáil in the coming weeks.

They said this initiative offers the potential "for a high level of cooperation" among all TDs and propose a similar approach to tackling the areas of housing, health and child poverty.

Irish Independent

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