Monday 16 July 2018

Taoiseach rules out weekend Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil government talks

Kenny singals his determined to lead minority government

Party leaders Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin
Party leaders Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin
John Downing

John Downing

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has ruled out weekend talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil which were sought by Independent TDs.

Mr Kenny was speaking after 40 hours of talks over the last five days between Fine Gael, Independent TDs and several smaller groups of deputies.  He said this process had produced 15 different topic papers on areas such as rural development, health, housing, and other issues.

The Taoiseach said these various papers will be worked on over the weekend in efforts to produce a draft Foundation Document for a Partnership Government.

Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten was among the Independent TDs who urged weekend talks between the two big parties. He argued that they should use the time to agree ground rules on how a minority coalition could work - irrespective of whether it was led by Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Mr Kenny again ruled out Fine Gael supporting a Fianna Fáil-led minority government, while seeking that his rival party do just that for him.

He argued that Fine Gael had got biggest vote and the most seats in the general election on February 26. This meant it  was his duty as Taoiseach to work  to form a minority government.

Mr Kenny said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will talk again after next Wednesday's Dáil session. This will include a vote on Taoiseach and discussions on plans for major Dáil reforms which would enhance the chances of a minority coalition providing secure and stable government.

The Taoiseach said making a new government was going to take time - and he refused to speculate on a time-frame much less set a deadline.

Sources close to the talks were optimistic that Fine Gael has gained real momentum at the end of a long week. They expect Mr Kenny will have more votes in next Wednesday's Taoiseach selection process and this will leave them in pole position to form a minority government.

Mr Kenny said the current Dáil, with no clear majority, is a real opportunity to produce a different model of government and politics in Ireland.

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