FF and FG argue over timing of new deal
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are at loggerheads over when the renegotiation of a new confidence-and-supply deal should begin.
It comes as Fine Gael's Ard Fheis heard a rallying cry to be "election ready".
Gerry O'Connell, chairman of the party's executive council, told members last night: "The time for preparation is now over the message to take back to your constituencies, is to prepare for a general election whenever it happens."
Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty publicly called for the talks between both parties to move from the review stage to the renegotiations of a new deal - despite an arrangement between both parties not to speak about the talks.
She said the discussions had "been very, very fair, very professional but I think it's time now to move on to the next stage of looking forward for the next 18 months to see what we can achieve together".
The political turmoil in the UK this week should lead the parties to "refocus our efforts and drive us to close off a deal if there is to be a deal in the next number of weeks", she told RTÉ Radio.
Privately, another minister said the "time for dragging heels must end".
A source close to the talks on the Fianna Fáil side said they did not understand the "panic" on the Fine Gael side to conclude the process.
The source said the review of the arrangement was still very much under way and would continue for the foreseeable days as several departments still had to present - and the broadband review had not yet been concluded.
Fianna Fáil still believed the process could be wrapped up by Christmas, they said, adding: "I don't understand the panic on the side of Fine Gael, there is no panic on our side."