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'I have agreed to meet Micheal Martin', says Leo as he demands respect for FG

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Caretaker Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has given the clearest signal yet that he is prepared to talk about coalition with Fianna Fail.

Mr Varadkar again insisted it was the responsibility of Sinn Fein and leftist parties to form a coalition, insisting that they had the numbers for a Dail majority.

However, speaking during a break from European Union budget talks in Brussels, he said he had spoken with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and they had agreed to talk again early next week.

Mr Varadkar brushed aside questions about the office of Taoiseach being shared between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. He said that so far that idea had not even been discussed.

"The situation is that the leader of Fianna Fail and I spoke by phone last night. We've agreed to meet early next week," Mr Varadkar said.

Determined

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Leo Varadkar with current Minister for Justice and former European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee in Brussels earlier this year

Leo Varadkar with current Minister for Justice and former European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee in Brussels earlier this year

Leo Varadkar with current Minister for Justice and former European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee in Brussels earlier this year

"At that meeting we'll discuss ways forward and I will then report to the Fine Gael parliamentary party, probably Wednesday or Thursday of next week, as to whether there is any basis for any further discussions."

The acting Taoiseach said Fine Gael was still determined to go into opposition.

"Those parties that are now in opposition should form a government," he said.

"They have more than enough numbers to do so. We are willing to talk to other parties about participating in government if the opposition fail to put together a government.

"But that's not something that we're planning to do or looking for.

"It could only really happen on the basis that there is full respect for the fact that we did win 450,000 votes in this election - we have 35 seats.

"We didn't win this election, but we have almost as many seats as Fianna Fail and not that many fewer than Sinn Fein.

"I do not see any evidence yet that that is recognised by any other party."

Mr Varadkar said he was in Brussels to defend Ireland's rural communities against farm fund and rural development grant cuts in a new EU budget regime being framed by the 27 member states for the years 2021-2027.

Brussels diplomats suggested that a deal is unlikely and that talks will be adjourned later today until next month.


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