Wednesday 16 October 2019

Micheál Martin: It's now 50-50 whether minority Government can be formed

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

Ralph Riegel

FIANNA FÁIL leader Micheál Martin said he now rates the chances of a successful outcome to talks over support for a minority Fine Gael Government at no more than "50:50".

Mr Martin's comments came as he warned that there had to be a recognition in the talks that a majority of TDs were elected to the 32nd Dail on the basis of opposition to water charges.

Both his party and Fine Gael have struggled to overcome ideological differences over Irish Water.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney stressed today that both parties had to make compromises in their positions to allow for a deal so a minority Government can be formed.

But Mr Martin, speaking as he made a personal submission to an oral hearing into a proposed Cork harbour waste incinerator, acknowledged that the public does not want another general election.

Despite that, he said the talks between the two major parties had dragged on far longer than anyone had anticipated and he warned that an outcome had to be reached within a matter of days.

"In my view it would appear to be a very 50:50 situation," he said.

"I don't want to negotiate in public. So far there has been a willingness to keep channels open and to engage and that is important."

"The tone has been good, actually, we are civil people. There are political differences."

"But sometimes you read articles about a war of words and obviously there is not."

Mr Martin acknowledged that Irish Water was a key issue with his party convinced that the matter had to be dealt with now so that it doesn't undermine any minority Government.

The Cork TD said his party's position remains that they want water charges suspended - but he repeated that people must comply with the law of the land and settle bills which were legally imposed for water charges.

"This (Irish Water) is an issue that needs to be resolved before the Government is formed," he said.

"This is a very important point - people are saying Fianna Fail is doing this and Fianna Fail is doing that. We are not."

"We are simply saying that, logically, if you do not deal with this issue before the formation of a Government, the Government itself is in danger. Its longevity is endangered. It becomes undermined."

"I would like this to be resolved in the next couple of days, yes."

"There actually is a natural timeline to these kind of talks. As I said, this has to be resolved in the next couple of days."

"We are not making that calculation (about an election). My observation is that no-one wants a election. But we are not calculating on that basis. I don't think the electorate will look favourably on anybody if an election happens."

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