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Smaller parties urged to join FF-FG coalition - as Varadkar and Martin get set for showdown talks this week

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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

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

HEALTH Minister Simon Harris urged smaller parties to join a potential Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition saying that people should stop just "talking" and "sniping" about creating a universal health service and instead sign up to deliver it.

He said a "world class health service" could be built in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

It comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin are set to meet as early as tomorrow to agree framework document drawn up by their two parties before it is sent to others for consideration.

A spokesperson for Mr Varadkar said: "Both parties met on Friday and made progress on the draft document.
"Both leaders will consider it this week when finalised."

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil want at least one other party to sign up to a coalition as they seek to build a Dáil majority.

The Civil War parties - which have 72 seats between them but need a minimum of 80 - have ruled out Sinn Féin as a government partner.

The Green Party, Social Democrats and Labour are all either opposed to deal with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil or are very reluctant to do one.

Mr Harris today argued that there's political consensus around the all-party Sláintecare plan for bringing in universal healthcare in Ireland.

He said: "What we need now is for people to stop just talking about it, giving out about it, sniping about it and sign up and come here and deliver it.

"Come here and work with us and lets make it happen.

"Let’s deliver Sláintecare, let’s say to the Irish people that you know we went through a massive health crisis in our country, where we worked day and night to save lives.

"Let the dividend from that be that we're going to create a world class health service".

"We can do that, if we all work together but that's going to require people being brave enough to step up to the plate and say yeah government's tough but I want to make a difference."

Mr Harris said he has become "less partisan by the day" due to the coronavirus crisis because there's "no room for partisan politics in terms of global pandemics."

"But we need other political parties to join us. We genuinely need to have a Dáil majority."

He added: "My hope would be as this document gets circulated during the week that other persons would step up to the plate."

He said there are "many talented individuals" in other parties and "Ireland needs them like it never did before."

Mr Harris singled-out Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall, praising her for her work on the Oireachtas committee that developed Sláintecare.

"It is the roadmap for it talks about building a universal health care system where people get treated on the basis of their need and not their ability to pay. That's what I'd like to see happen," he said.




Online Editors