Thursday 29 September 2016

Marathon Government formation talks end as Enda Kenny looks to secure second term as Taoiseach

Barry Lennon, Niall O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Published 24/03/2016 | 17:12

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

MARATHON talks over the formation of a new Government ended this evening as Enda Kenny moved to steal a step over Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin in the race to become Taoiseach.

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Some 88 items in areas such as tax, health, crime and Rural Ireland were outlined in a discussion document circulated at round table talks at Government Buildings.

The discussions, which lasted over seven hours, were attended by 17 independent TDs or members of smaller parties.

During the discussions, Mr Kenny insisted that he has no plans to step down and that he is determined to form a “workable” minority government that can last.

He also indicated a willingness to involve Fianna Fáil in future talks - but said this was unlikely to happen for some time.

The only issues that were given substantial time for discussion today were housing and rural affairs.

Talks are due to resume again next Tuesday.

Fine Gael's Simon Harris, who is a member of the negotiating team, described talks with Independents today as "a long and constructive engagement."

Mr Harris said he could "not discuss exactly was said" when asked whether Independents sought Fianna Fáil support for any potential power sharing deal.

"We're not at that stage yet. Obviously Independents have made it clear of their want for Fianna Fail support," he said.

"I think it's important that you talk to the people you wish to share Government with first"

Mr Harris was joined by Health Minister Leo Varadkar who said "how talks would proceed" was mainly discussed yesterday, while housing was "touched on."

"A paper will be drawn up on the issue and will then be taken from there on Tuesday," Mr Varadkar said.

"A lot of today was just getting to know each other a bit better. Understanding the policies and the characters"

"It's very early days yet."

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the process of the talks were "constructive" despite TDs only managing to discuss housing and rural  affairs.

"Listen this is far from certain and we're in a very unusual situation but talks were entered in good faith," he said.

"Nothing was made certain but people's views were discussed on Housing."

"Irish politics has changed and that's not a bad thing"

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