Alliance wants to stay in coalition two more years

Alliance wants to stay in coalition two more years
Finian McGrath has made a special cystic fibrosis unit at Beaumont Hospital a priority

Independent Alliance ministers have told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar they want to stay in Government another two years and of their priorities for the budget, which include welfare, health, and housing measures.

Mr Varadkar met the four ministers yesterday and updated them about the confidence and supply negotiations with Fianna Fáil.

Government sources called the meeting with the alliance “reflective and constructive”.

Transport Minister Shane Ross and the other three ministers from the Alliance went through outstanding issues in the programme for government that they want prioritised.

They include the €40m promised for Beaumont Hospital in north Dublin as well as a special cystic fibrosis unit there, issues prioritised by minister of state for disabilities, Finian McGrath.

Sources said the ministers told Mr Varadkar “straight out” that they do not want a snap general election and instead want political tensions to calm down.

Ministers said they want to remain in power with the Fine Gael minority government for at least another year, if not two.

Mr Varadkar was encouraged to ensure mediation as a priority with the women caught up in the cervical cancer controversy. It is understood he replied that he was trying to come up with solutions. However, none were outlined during the Government partners’ meeting.

These solutions could be provided in a face-to-face meeting with campaigner and cancer patient Vicky Phelan as early as today.

He got the message,” an Alliance source told the Irish Examiner. “Leo is beginning to understand us. Just because there is a row, it doesn’t mean you bring down the Government. Things have improved in recent weeks.

Mr Varadkar is understood to believe that the relationship between the two sides is stable and reliable.

In a separate meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, the alliance also put forth budget proposals. These include measures and funding plans in the areas of health, disability, welfare, and transport.

Mr Donohoe will assess these over the remaining part of the Dáil recess before preparations for October’s budget are stepped up. The proposals include financial supports for senior citizens as well as ways to ease the housing crisis.

Describing this meeting, one Alliance source said: “We want our fingerprints on the budget. We understand the Central Bank warnings, the risk of the economy overheating. But you can be radical and be responsible.”

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