Tuesday 28 January 2020

Mattie McGrath: 'All to play for' as FF and FG court independents

The rural Independent deputies from left..Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath, Denis Naughten, Dr.Michael Harty and Michael Collins. Photo: Tom Burke
The rural Independent deputies from left..Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath, Denis Naughten, Dr.Michael Harty and Michael Collins. Photo: Tom Burke

Ralph Riegel

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath stressed that it was still “all to play for” as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael court independents over intensifying bids to form a minority Government.

 The independent TD, speaking as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin unveiled a 1916 memorial plaque in Newcastle, Co Tipperary, admitted that he was more impressed by Fianna Fáil’s policy proposals to date.

 However, he confirmed he was prepared, like other independents, to vote against both parties forming a minority Government this week unless they had first hammered out an agreement on supports as demanded by independents.

“I will be waiting to see what happens. We have the vote on Thursday.  I will have to vote ‘No’ for both of them if they haven’t come to an agreement,” he said.

“If they have come to an agreement and that is there, it will make is easy to vote for one or the other.”

 “I have abstained on the last two occasions and I hate abstaining. It is not my style. But we will have to wait and see. I think there is a real possibility of both parties putting a group (minority Government) group together.”

 “To be honest, the policies I saw from Fianna Fáil, probably because they were in Opposition with us for five years, was easy to read through.”

 “But we are not ruling anything in or ruling anything out at this stage. It is all to play for.”

Mr McGrath warned that it was crucial the two main parties reach an agreement or ‘road map’ on how either would treat a minority administration lead by the other.

Read more: Minority governments can work if given a chance, insists Micheal Martin

“There has been a small bit of an improvement,” he said.

“At least Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are entering into talks albeit too late. But at least they are engaged in talks with a view to showing us (the independents) the road map which is what we were looking for all the time.”

 “This will explain how a minority Government will function if either of them were to go into Government.”

 “I think it is going to come down to that. They have ruled out partnership, Fianna Fáil has. It is a pity, I think. So I think it will be a minority Government.”

 “At least if we have that road map we will know what the rules of engagement are before we vote for either party.”

 “Before we can support a minority Government we have to have some idea about what the rules of engagement are – how many budgets will be passed and how will votes be held. It is not rocket science.”

He said he believed Ireland was moving closer to a minority Government with little appetite in the 32nd Dáil for a fresh election.

“There are only a few core issues – there will be votes lost in this Dáil several times. It is really only about the budgets and the votes of confidence. No more than five core issues or so,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be impossible to reach that parity of esteem between the two parties – to agree to support one or the other.”

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