Sunday 4 December 2016

'The offer is real, it's not a stroke, it's in best interests of the country' - Fine Gael

Published 08/04/2016 | 02:30

Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Fine Gael ministers and TDs expressed their disappointment that Fianna Fáil rejected their proposal for a partnership government.

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Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the offer "in the national interest". Ms Fitzgerald added: "It appears to us that the national interest at this point in the Fianna Fáil response has not got enough consideration."

She said the country needed a stable government to deal with the challenging issues facing it.

Ms Fitzgerald branded as "nonsense" Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin's claim that the offer appeared to be "choreography" by the Taoiseach.

"It was an absolutely genuine offer that was put on the table in good faith," she said. Fine Gael Meath East TD Regina Doherty echoed those remarks, saying "Fine Gael aren't very good at strokes. "The offer is real. It's not a stroke, it's in the best interests of the country," she told the Irish Independent.

Ms Doherty said that Mr Kenny had unanimous support for the partnership government plan at his party's meeting yesterday.

"One member spoke of history. That Enda Kenny would be the person to end Civil War politics," she said.

Ms Doherty said she accepted that Fianna Fáil has a "genuine concern" about going into coalition having ruled it out during the election but added that "if they reject if for the old reasons - then I'd be disappointed".

Reflecting on the challenging make-up of the Dáil, she said "times are changing" and added that "perhaps Fine Gael have cottoned on to that more quickly [than Fianna Fáil]."

Acting Health Minister Leo Varadkar was asked if a failure for a new Taoiseach to be voted in next week would lead to a fresh election.

"If the Dáil doesn't elect a Taoiseach on Thursday, it doesn't automatically trigger a General Election and we'll continue the work that we are doing to try and provide a government," he said.

"Fine Gael has put in enormous effort in the last few weeks to form a government initially with the Independents and other parties," he said.

"We made a really historic offer yesterday to Fianna Fáil and Independents to form a government and that work will continue.

"We're very disappointed at the haste at which this offer was refused but it does still stand and we'll continue to keep our door open to Fianna Fáil and the Independents."

Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan said of Fianna Fáil's swift refusal of Mr Kenny's offer: "Sometimes a quick rejection is an attempt to improve what is on offer."

Irish Independent

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