Tuesday 13 November 2018

Martin phones Kenny in first direct contact on government formation

Twenty-minute phone talk suggests FG-FF talks cannot happen before next week

Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny
Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny
John Downing

John Downing

ANY talks on government by the two big parties must wait until after another Dáil vote next Wednesday in efforts to pick a Taoiseach, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin phoned acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny and held a 20-minute conversation with him on all current political issues – including forming a government almost five weeks after the February 26 general election.

This was the first known contact between the two leaders and comes 34 days after the election.

The Fianna Fáil leader rejected suggestions that a second vote of TDs in efforts to pick a Taoiseach should be deferred from next Wendesday when this 32nd Dáil meets for the third time.

Mr Martin told reporters the acting Taoiseach said he hoped to conclude Fine Gael deliberations with Independents and smaller groups by tomorrow, Friday.

The Fianna Fáil leader said his own party’s discussions with Independents and smaller groups would take up until Monday or Tuesday - and his name would again be put forward for election as Taoiseach next Wednesday.

“After Wednesday, we have agreed that we will have discussions,” Mr Martin said - but such talks depended on the outcome of the Dáil vote.

He said there was “no set agenda” for any Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil talks later next week – but he conceded water charges and the future of Irish Water would be among some “big issues.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said efforts to get maximum support for a minority government led by his party would continue up until next Wednesday at least. “I haven’t ruled out anything since the election on minority governments,” Mr Martin said.

He said some other TDs agreed with Fianna Fáil that they had been elected with the aim of removing the previous government led by Enda Kenny – but he also insisted Mr Kenny’s leadership was an internal Fine Gael issue.

Mr Martin again publicly conceded that whatever minority government emerged it would require support from both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael given the current deadlocked Dáil numbers. He also again castigated Sinn Fein for its stance of standing aside from the prospect of government formation.

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