Monday 20 November 2017

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Government talks back on after 'cordial and professional' phone call between leaders

Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny
Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

MINORITY government talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are set to resume this afternoon after a phone call between acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin.

The pair had a phone conversation this morning that's been described as "cordial and professional".

A Fianna Fáil spokesman confirmed that talks between the two parties will begin this afternoon. He said that a meeting is scheduled but declined to say who would represent Fianna Fáil.

Read More: Kenny's bid for Taoiseach hangs on FF water deal

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the meeting will take place in Government Buildings and that Fine Gael will be represented by "the usual team".

Ministers Simon Coveney, Frances Fitzgerald, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe have been among those negotiating on Fine Gael's behalf.

The renewed talks betwen the parties comes after neither Mr Kenny or Mr Martin got enough support to become the next Taoiseach in the third round of voting on the matter in the Dáil yesterday.

Read More: Healy-Rae says abstention deal was 'a good day's work'

Mr Martin will now not put his name forward again to lead a minority administration while Mr Kenny continues to seek the support of Independents for his bid to become the next Taoiseach.

Dáil arithmetic means he will need any minority government he leads to be facilitated by Fianna Fáil's 43 deputies.

The most serious issue dividing Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as talks resume is the future of Irish Water.

Mr Kenny's party want the utility and charges retained while Fianna Fáil want to suspend water bills and abolish Irish Water to replace it with a slimmed down national directorate for water.

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