Tuesday 20 February 2018

Kenny brushes off questions about FG leadership but says party will talk to Fianna Fail

Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank McGrath
Enda Kenny. Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

FINE Gael hasn't yet been in contact with other parties or independents about forming a government but will talk to Fianna Fáil, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Mr Kenny repeatedly ruled out doing a deal with Micheál Martin's party during the election campaign. However, now he says his job as Taoiseach is to put forward a proposition for government and "that includes talking to the Fianna Fáil party".

He brushed off questions about his leadership of Fine Gael saying that his party's rules mean his priority is to try and form a government.

Mr Kenny was speaking at the opening of an exhibition on the 1916 Rising at the National Museum at Collin's Barracks, Dublin and fielded questions from reporters for the first time since Saturday.

He admitted it had been a "bruising election for Fine Gael and Labour after five very difficult years in government".

On the question of his continued leadership of Fine Gael he said he would abide by the rules of his party. 

"My job as leader of Fine Gael, the largest party in the Dáil, the party which received the highest vote in the election is to move on to what the people want which is to provide them with a government that will work in the interests of the country in the time ahead.

"That's why I'm engaging now in the process of discussions with groups and individuals and parties who have ideas about how that might happen."

He conceded that he was now willing to talk to Fianna Fáil about forming a government.

Asked if his preference was for a coalition or a minority Fine Gael government supported by Fianna Fáil, Mr Kenny replied: "Well we haven't started any discussions or any negotiations about any option yet.

"There are a number of options. They're all difficult but the people out there for whom the election was an important part of their lives and voted, they've made their decision, it's now up to the political process to deal with that decision."

"We have not had any discussions with Fianna Fáil or any other party or group yet," Mr Kenny added.

Mr Kenny reiterated that the "options are all difficult" but added "I don't think that anybody who's elected to the 32nd Dáil wants another early election. I'm not contemplating that. I have to look at all the options that are on the table here."

Asked what he thought was the biggest mistake made during the campaign, Mr Kenny replied: "The election is over."

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