Rural Ireland would have to be exempt from environmental measures like carbon tax if a group of Independent TDs is to join a government involving Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens.
The warning came from Rural Independent Group TD Michael Collins as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael last night responded to the Green Party's demands for beginning programme for government negotiations. The response was sent directly to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.
Separately, Labour leader Alan Kelly set out a string of demands and questions that would have to be addressed by Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin if his party was to consider entering government talks.
They include seeking a commitment that the next government would honour the current public sector pay deal and another pledge that the emergency €350-a-week payment for people who lost their jobs in the coronavirus crisis would be kept at that level.
He said Labour has "made clear" that it is the primary responsibility of the parties that got more votes in the General Election to form a stable government. Mr Kelly asked the leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to outline how they would plan to reach a Dáil majority if the Labour Party was to join a coalition.
Together, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 72 TDs. Labour has six and others would be needed for a bare majority of 80. The Civil War parties have targeted the Greens who have 12 TDs, but they have made a string of demands including a more ambitious carbon emissions reduction target of 7pc a year.
The two larger parties have also spoken to Independents.
The Rural Independent Group has been hostile to environmental policies it claims damage rural Ireland. One of its number, Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae, has claimed climate change is not caused by human activity. His brother Michael Healy-Rae said he would have to "seriously consider" if he wanted to remain living in Ireland if Mr Ryan was to become Taoiseach as part of a rotation deal in a coalition.
Cork South-West TD Mr Collins last night claimed the Green Party has "extreme ideas", but said it appears it is the preferred choice of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. He said if they want his group on board as well, "we'll have to look towards zero carbon tax for rural Ireland". He suggested the tax could be limited to big cities or towns as he argued that it "decimates" rural areas.
Another member of the group, Limerick TD Richard O'Donoghue, raised concern about the Green policies to encourage walking and cycling, saying: "That's going to be very hard if you're 40 miles away from town."
He claimed the last government "closed down rural Ireland" and "that's what the Greens would do".
Neither TD ruled out going into a coalition with the Greens, but expressed scepticism. They are drawing up their own proposals to present to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael along with the other members of the group, Mattie McGrath and Carol Nolan.