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Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin agree to enter historic coalition on basis of 'full and equal partnership'


Teaming up: Micheál Martin (left) and Leo Varadkar will swap roles at the head of the new government. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Teaming up: Micheál Martin (left) and Leo Varadkar will swap roles at the head of the new government. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Climate Minister Richard Bruton.

Climate Minister Richard Bruton.


Teaming up: Micheál Martin (left) and Leo Varadkar will swap roles at the head of the new government. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar have agreed a policy framework document which will pave the way to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael entering into government.

Following a meeting today, the two leaders agreed to work towards forming a majority government for five years but only on the basis it will involve at least three parties.

They also agreed they would enter into coalition on “full and equal partnership”.

It was agreed that the policy framework document will be the basis for a programme for government.

The document which has been developed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil negotiating teams will now be sent to their parliamentary parties.

It will then be sent to smaller parties and independents interested in entering into government.

In a message to the Fine Gael TDs and Senators, the parliamentary party chair Martin Heydon said: “The Taoiseach has asked me to inform the Parliamentary Party that he met Michael Martin earlier today and that they have agreed a policy framework document that could form the basis for a Programme for Government.

“They reaffirmed their commitment to forming a majority government of three or more parties/groups that will last five years with full and equal partnership between FG and FF at its centre,” he added.

Fine Gael parliamentary party will meet by teleconference tomorrow to discuss the document.

A Fine Gael spokesman said: “Both Leaders met this morning and agreed the framework document.

“Both Leaders will brief their respective Parliamentary Parties tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, a set of ten priorities set out by a Fine Gael reference group insists any deal with Fianna Fáil must “consider how local property tax can be better used by councils”.

The group, led by Communications Minister Richard Bruton, also says the new government must increase the power of councillors and finds ways to streamline the planning system to prevent delays in construction.

Changing how property tax is spent by local authorities is one of the key priorities of Fine Gael in government negotiations with Fianna Fáil.

It also says the parties must develop a “dynamic and reforming public service” which is monitored using scorecards.

It says the public service must operate with “real accountability” and have an “appropriate relationship to the political system”.

The group says any government deal should involve a “new social contract” which embraces all communities and “responds to the new risks and costs of living which are creating concern in people’s lives”.

It also calls for “fairness and equality of opportunity so everyone is given a chance to fulfil their potential, particularly those with disabilities to overcome”.

“In particular it will include a clear contract for the young who have borne many burdens in recent years,” it adds.

On health, it says Slainte Care should be “re-evaluated” to determine the gains made from the project while also committing to “retaining positive changes” implemented in the health service during the Covid-19 emergency.

The group says the next government should strengthen “early years support to children by combining better early intervention, development of skills and leadership in the sector, and ensuring high standards and affordability”.

It also says Fine Gael should develop a strategy to ensure Ireland can deliver net zero emissions by 2050 as part of the European Green Deal. The group also insists on a new action plan for jobs in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

The Reference Group has also set out seven tests for any government agreement with Fianna Fáil

They include:

  1. That nothing distracts from the central task of protecting our people during the present Covid 19 crisis.
  2. Offers the prospect of stable durable government which has broad based legitimacy.
  3. A new Mission and sense of purpose which demonstrates urgency for doing things differently, and reflects our values and our ability to lead change at critical times.
  4. Putting sustainability at the heart of our fiscal policy, our enterprise policy, our innovation policy and our environment policy.
  5. Addresses key pressure points for the cost of living.
  6. Implements reforms which will restore a strong role for the Parliamentary Party to ensure the government is responding to emerging concerns across the country and develops new arrangements so that the party has a distinct character within government.
  7. Implements a Vibrant Policy Agenda (we have identified 10 areas below on which we are working) which responds to public needs within the tight constraints likely to prevail.

Online Editors