'I think we will have a Government this week' - Simon Coveney predicts Enda will be Taoiseach by Thursday
Acting Minister for Agriculture and Defence Simon Coveney has said he expects a government will be in place by Thursday.
Speaking in Co Cork today Mr Coveney (FG) said that he expects a deal between Fine Gael and Independents to be thrashed out in the next four days.
“I think we will have a Government this week. If you are asking me to guess I would probably say on Thursday.”
“We cannot be sure and it could even be Friday.”
“The public are very impatient at this stage. They have been waiting a long time for a Government. We have been working very hard, night and day, to make that happen.”
Mr Coveney was speaking as he inspected LE Roisin at Haulbowline Naval Base as the patrol ship became the fourth to be deployed to the Mediterranean to assist with migrant rescues off the north African coast.
The Cork TD , who was part of the Fine Gael negotiation team during their discussions with Fianna Fáil, said they had “more or less” concluded the deal.
“I think both parties can live with it. Of course we are talking to independents who have shown a lot of patience throughout this process.”
He appealed to smaller parties like Social Democrats and the Greens to be part of governing Ireland.
“They have an opportunity to do it now. We want them to be part of the Government if they want to be.”
“We will accommodate their concerns and policies as part of that. But it is up to them.”
“They may, even at this stage, want to sit down and talk to us seriously about how they could help govern Ireland with us rather than simply work with us from Opposition.
“I am talking specifically about the Green Party and the Social Democrats who I really would appeal to at a grassroots level as well as at an Oireachtas level, to think about the role they could play in Government with independents and Fine Gael.”
“I know it is difficult for them. The Social Democrats are a new party. This was their first election and they made it very clear, to date anyway, they want to be in Opposition to continue to build their party structures. I understand that.”
“Likewise, with the Green Party, they will have three Oireachtas members now and it is difficult for their membership to get their head around going into Government when they were expected to be a radical voice from Opposition on Green Party issues.”
He insisted that the focus really for the next 48 hours or so will be to work with independents
“I think I have spent 70 hours of discussions with independents already at this stage.”
“We need to bring that to a conclusion now so that we can operate a minority Government but in a situation where it can function.”
Mr Coveney also hit out at speculation over the future of acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
“Papers will write what they will write. That is their job to speculate. But he has my full support. He has the party’s full support actually.
“Enda’s focus for the last number of weeks has been to take on the responsibility as leader of the largest party to put a Government together.”
“I think Fine Gael had a huge responsibility to do that. Otherwise we would go back to the polls again which I don’t think is what people want.”
“His focus has been to put that Government together and to make sure that it can move ahead and solve people’s problems. That is now the focus of everyone in Fine Gael right now.”
“There might be a lot of chatter around leadership of Fine Gael outside of Fine Gael. But within Fine Gael the focus is very much on trying to put a Government together.”