Thursday 19 April 2018

Government Talks: What we know and what might happen with fourth attempt to elect Taoiseach this week

Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny Photo: Steve Humphreys
Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny Photo: Steve Humphreys

Barry Lennon

Politicians in Leinster House will hope they can end the deadlock and elect a Taoiseach on their fourth attempt this Thursday.

However, reaching that deadline might prove tricky as beforehand Fine Gael - the party best placed to lead a minority government - must finish talks with Fianna Fáil.

Not to forget the party’s other task to win support from Independents and others.

As Ireland’s longest period without a Government looks set to get longer takes a look at the five things we know about Government talks.

  1. They’ve found a nice new location

Trinity College Dublin

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil negotiators have retreated to Trinity College and away from the prying eyes of journalists and fellow TDs.

The Provosts’ House is a refuge from Leinster House where a simple trip to the toilet can lead to several conversations with politicians and journalists hungry for information.

     2.    They are ‘cordial’

The only word anyone will officially use to describe the mood in the room as both parties fear saying anything more might jeopardise any deal.

However, sources say they are moving quickly and making progress on an agreement.

     3.    Labour Party is back on the scrap heap.

Labour party leader Joan Burton. Photo: David Conachy. 26/03/2016

After flirting with the idea of returning to Government with Fine Gael they have back tracked completely.

Perhaps it was fanciful as Labour would face an uphill battle to get back into power, having to seek members’ support at a special conference after suffering a hammering at the polls.

     4.     Fine Gael trying to smoke out the Independents

Independent TD Michael Healy Rae. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Independent TDs were not happy about Fine Gael leaks revealing their demands for ‘parish pump’ deals would cost €13bn as a price for supporting the party.

Michael Healy-Rae called it “outrageous and factually inaccurate” even though Finance Department sources later said the figure was conservative.

Independents are likely to have taken a dim view of Fine Gael’s failed attempt to re-ignite its old relationship with Labour.

     5.     Can Kenny be re-elected Taoiseach on Thursday?

Fine Gael are talking up the prospect but they still have to discuss Irish Water with Fianna Fáil – something both parties disagree on.

After reaching an agreement the party may have to return cap-in-hand to the Independents and strike a deal within 48 hours.

A betting man might say no.

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