Kenny offers deal to FF for grand coalition
Enda Kenny is prepared to offer Micheál Martin the opportunity to become Taoiseach for half the government's term to tempt him into a grand coalition.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would also have an equal share of ministerial positions. And Independent TDs would also be involved in the government.
After 40 days of stalemate in the formation of a new government, the two party leaders finally sat down to talks for the first time last night.
The move followed the second vote for Taoiseach in the Dáil, which was again inconclusive. Mr Kenny only got the votes of Fine Gael TDs and Independent TD Michael Lowry, while Mr Martin only had Fianna Fáil TDs supporting him.
In their meeting lasting an hour and 10 minutes, the acting Taoiseach offered Fianna Fáil a "full and equal partnership government".
Mr Kenny told Mr Martin he would be "generous and open" in any deal between the two parties, provided it would last a full five-year term.
The partnership would see Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil share the same number of seats at the Cabinet table.
Significantly, the Irish Independent understands Mr Kenny is willing to offer a rotating Taoiseach if that's what it takes to secure the arrangement.
The rotating Taoiseach was not specifically discussed at last night's meeting.
But Fine Gael are open to Mr Martin becoming Taoiseach for two-and-a-half years of a full five-year term in office.
Mr Kenny told Mr Martin he wants as many as possible of the 15 Independents who have been involved in talks over the past fortnight to be part of the government.
Fianna Fáil sources were immediately sceptical, saying it amounted to a coalition by another name and the idea of a rotating Taoiseach was "nothing new".
The two party leaders now have seven days to try to thrash out a deal before the next Dáil vote on electing a Taoiseach.
Neither Mr Kenny nor Mr Martin can become Taoiseach without the tacit support of the other leader.
After talks with Independent TDs proved inconclusive a second election is a possibility.