Wednesday 29 January 2020

Government talks: What five things can 'the people' expect to happen this week?

Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin after the 1916 Arbour Hill Commemoration ceremony and requiem mass REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Enda Kenny and Micheal Martin after the 1916 Arbour Hill Commemoration ceremony and requiem mass REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Political Correspondent

Government talks are continuing 59 days after the General Election and fatigue is setting in. So what can 'the people' expect to happen this week?

1) Finally... a deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

The two parties are closing in on an agreement on water charges - the largest stumbling block during the government talks to date.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny will now push Micheál Martin to provide a written agreement to support a Fine Gael-led minority government for a period of up to five years.

But there is still many banana skins ahead for both parties and talks at Trinity College are likely to continue for several more hours at least.

2)  Water...Water...everywhere

As detailed in the Irish Independent and the Herald today, water charges could be suspended for a limited period while an independent commission is set up to examine a new charging framework that includes waivers and generous allowances.

But expect water to be the dominant issue in politics this week - as Sinn Féin and left wing TDs accuse Fine Gael of a climbdown, and Fianna Fáil of stealing their clothes.

Irish Water is also expected to announce the scale of payment cancellations since the General Election in what could also be significant.

With 950,000 households already paying their bills, this issue is not going to go away.

3) Another week...another redundant Dáil Éireann

TDs will make copious amounts of statements in Dáil Éireann again this week on extremely important topics such as mental health, agriculture and the Irish language.

But with no government in place, the words of our deputies will have virtually no impact.

4)  There’s another election taking place - but do any of us care?

As the government formation talks continue in Trinity College, counting will begin in the members' restaurant of Leinster House for the Séanad elections.

By the end of the week, we should know the makeup of the Upper House.

And with many colourful characters in contention for a seat, the Séanad could finally become relevant - and somewhat interesting.

5)  Fitzgerald under pressure over court ruling

One of the most concerning moments of the impasse was the news last week that prisoners face having their suspended sentences revoked because of a court ruling.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has pledged emergency legislation to address the issue - but will she be able to get the bill through quickly enough to prevent more prisoner releases.

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