The leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are poised to strike a historic deal that could see the two Civil War parties enter into coalition government together for the first time.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin will meet as early as today to thrash out the details of a framework document.
It is designed to lure smaller parties into the majority government the two leaders insist is needed to tackle the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
But the Green Party, Social Democrats and Labour have all expressed varying degrees of opposition to doing a deal with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Sources last night said that the document is “ambitious” and that it’s not a “fait accompli” being presented to smaller parties.
It is understood to include:
:: Proposals to overhaul housing, health and childcare;
:: A prioritisation of the green agenda;
:: A commitment to bring in a living wage.
Health Minister Simon Harris urged others to get on board, saying: “Ireland needs them like it never did before.”
Sources said that the final document won’t be signed off on until after Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin meet.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have 72 Dáil seats between them but need a minimum of 80 for a Dáil majority.
They want at least one smaller party as well the possibility of including some Independents to ensure a strong majority for the next government.
Both parties have ruled out Sinn Féin as a potential government partner but the Green Party with 12 seats is a key target for striking a coalition agreement.
The Greens have shied away from doing a deal with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, instead advocating a national unity government involving all parties.
It has been divided on whether or not to talk to the two larger parties now that their unity proposal has been roundly rejected.
The Social Democrats have previously said they're opposed to joining a government involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil together.
Its co-leader Róisín Shortall has said her party was open to examining the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael policy proposals.
The preference in Labour, under its new leader Alan Kelly, is to rebuild its support while in opposition.
Mr Kelly said he will talk to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil but it's for others to form a government.
There is an expectation in Fianna Fáil that Mr Martin will meet Mr Varadkar to discuss the framework document today.
A spokesman for the Taoiseach would only say that: "Both parties met on Friday and made progress on the draft document.
"Both leaders will consider it this week when finalised."
A Fine Gael source last night said the joint draft document is "ambitious" and has a "strong focus" on the green agenda because "that's what the electorate wanted".
They would not be drawn on which of the smaller parties would most likely be brought on board by the proposals in document but said "there are difficult days ahead. We all know that.
"I hope some decide to step up to the mark."
A Fianna Fáil source said the document "is about inviting other parties to have an input into what a Programme for Government would look like.
"It's not being presented as a fait accompli."
The draft document is said to contain an overhaul of housing policy including a pledge to build 60,000 social homes in five years.
There are commitments to hold referendums on property rights to reduce the cost of land and empowering the Land Development Agency to build social and affordable housing.
The document also commits to creating a "new deal" for renters and landlords centred on giving tenants more security and choices of reasonably priced accommodation.
There are few specifics in the document but it will to go further than both parties' election manifestos.
This includes an openness to more ambitious carbon emission reduction targets as demanded by the Green Party.
RTÉ last night reported that the document includes proposals for increased State support for childcare including a pathway for to pilot a community childcare model as well as a commitment to introduce a 'living wage', something that's been demanded by some smaller parties.
Rebuilding the economy after the coronavirus emergency will dominate the next government's agenda.
The tentative moves towards a single-tiered health system brought about by the outbreak of the disease are also set to be built on in the proposals from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Mr Harris last night said a "world class health service" could be built in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
He argued that there's political consensus around the all-party Sláintecare plan for bringing in universal healthcare in Ireland.
He said: "What we need now is for people to stop just talking about it, giving out about it, sniping about it and sign up...
"Let's deliver Sláintecare."
Mr Harris also said: "We can do that, if we all work together but that's going to require people being brave enough to step up to the plate and say yeah government's tough but I want to make a difference."
He stressed the need for a Dáil majority and said: "My hope would be as this document gets circulated during the week that other persons would step up to the plate."
He said there are "many talented individuals" in other parties and "Ireland needs them like it never did before."
Mr Harris singled out Social Democrats co-leader Ms Shortall, praising her for her work on the Oireachtas committee that developed Sláintecare.
Mr Varadkar said at the weekend that no decision had yet been made on how the Taoiseach/Tánaiste relationship would work between him and Mr Martin in a government deal.
He told the 'Sunday Independent': "The focus has really been on the policy programme and what the next government can do for the country - how it can get us through this crisis and also help us to rebuild and look to the future."
Mr Martin told the 'Irish Examiner' that it was an issue for further discussion, but said that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would have an equal share of Cabinet seats.