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Fianna Fail/FG pledge to look after tenants in new deal

Soc Dems open to talks if Civil War parties behave ‘differently’

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A Fianna Fail and Fine Gael government will promise greater State involvement in building houses and a ‘new deal for tenants’ to give renters long-term security.

A framework document for how the Civil War parties plan to govern together is being finalised this weekend and will go beyond the manifestos of both parties in a bid to entice the Greens, Labour and Social Democrats to join a coalition government, sources involved in its drafting said.

Fianna Fail is set to look for the Housing ministry and to re-split the Finance and Public Expenditure portfolios in any new government.

A senior Fianna Fail source said the party would want to “put our stamp” on delivering reforms in housing, including greater State involvement in building homes and delivering security of tenure for renters. “The public expect and won’t stand for failure in that area again,” they said.

Both parties believe the current emergency rent freeze won’t need to be extended as more properties become available on the market due to the Covid-19 crisis. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told this newspaper: “I don’t think that will be necessary. In fact, I think rents are likely to fall.”

A senior Fine Gael source accepted Fianna Fail would want the Department of Housing and the Finance and PER jobs would be divided between the two parties. However, they added: “The challenge is if you bring in a third party they’ll want a meaty senior ministry as well.”

The short framework document will set out priorities for a new government in the areas of health, housing, childcare, the green agenda, and communities with a stronger role for the State envisioned in each area. Sources stressed there are very few specifics in the document but that it will signal a shift from the policies in both parties’ manifestos. There will be a strong focus on assisting SMEs badly damaged by the Covid-19 crisis.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have opened the door to coalition talks with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. Co-leader Roisin Shortall said the two parties would have to show they “are serious about ensuring things are different from now on”. She said: “We’re certainly open to looking at the document if Fine Gael or Fianna Fail have come to the conclusion that they got it wrong over the last number of years and they are prepared to do things differently,”

Asked about the possibility of being health minister in a new government, Ms Shortall said: “It would be fantastic to implement Slaintecare and do it quickly but both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have been lukewarm on it. There is now an opportunity to accelerate progress on Slaintecare.”

An internal Fine Gael document has set out several tests a new administration would have to meet including that it be “stable durable government which has broad-based legitimacy”. A senior Fine Gael source said there needs to be a third party in any new government as you “could be held hostage” by Independent TDs on local issues.

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