Tuesday 24 April 2018

Business warns of threats to economy

Small Firms Association's Patricia Callan
Small Firms Association's Patricia Callan

Kevin Doyle, Niall O'Connor and Barry Lennon

The country's leading business groups have come together to warn the new government must see out a full five years in office.

But talks on the formation of a new government have "not a hope in hell" of being concluded in time for tomorrow's scheduled Dáil vote.

A letter from the heads of six employer groups calls for "a clear, comprehensive agreement" and not one "preoccupied by the possibility of an imminent general election".

"The Irish economy is moving in the right direction, but domestic pressures, global economic uncertainty and a possible vote by the UK to leave the EU mean we cannot take the recovery for granted," the business groups said.

The letter is signed by the Small Firms Association's Patricia Callan, ISME's Mark Fielding, Ibec's Danny McCoy, the Irish Exporters Association's Simon McKeever, the Construction Industry Federation's Tom Parlon and Chambers Ireland's Ian Talbot.

However, there is a growing expectation within Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil the next vote on Taoiseach will be deferred as the negotiations drag on. However, sources in both parties told the Irish Independent the initial two days of engagement have been productive.

The parties yesterday exchanged position papers outlining how they believe a minority government might work during a 90-minute discussion.

The teams have not yet discussed policy areas such as taxation or water charges and it has not been agreed whether Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil would lead a government.

However, in a boost for Enda Kenny, the Labour Party has now indicated that if a vote does take place this week it may favour the Fine Gael leader.

A deal being speculated upon would involve Seanad seats for Labour. Labour abstained on Mr Kenny on the last occasion but a source said the party will "consider all options".

"If it is felt a vote for Enda Kenny would move us a step towards forming a government then, yes, we would consider that," the source said.

And in a further sign of momentum for Mr Kenny, the Independent Alliance last night agreed a private meeting with Fine Gael after submitting a dossier of demands.

Among dozens of requests now being tabled by Shane Ross's group is a Cabinet minister for disabilities.

Independent Alliance TD John Halligan has indicated he is preparing to pull out of the negotiations.

He said he could "play no part in forming a government" unless cardiac care at Waterford hospital was upgraded to a 24-hour service, seven days a week.

Irish Independent

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