Additional reporting: Paul Hosford
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are set to “love-bomb” the Green Party in the coming days in a bid to convince them to enter government with them.
Sources in both parties have said that the Green Party, with its 12 TDs, is a more attractive and viable option than trying to rely on a large group of Independents.
The two larger parties are due to meet again on Monday and several more times next week to finalise a joint policy document which they would seek to present to the Greens as a basis for a programme for government.
While the talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been confidential, the Irish Examiner has confirmed that agreement has been reached that emergency Covid-19 payments “must be temporary”.
Fine Gael is insisting that capital spending will have to be prioritised even if the country ends up in deep recession, sources have said.
The talks, which are said not yet to be at a very advanced stage, have explored how both parties would enjoy “parity of esteem” in any government arrangement.
This concept was agreed upon by Taoiseach Leo Varakdar and Micheál Martin and the two negotiating teams have sought to put it into practice, sources have said.
The joint policy paper will not be a comprehensive document like a normal programme for government, but rather a highly condensed “broad-based document” which will allude to issues in health, housing, education, and taxation.
This weekend, the two parties will seek to marry their respective policy papers into one combined document and will develop it further during the week.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said a number of parties will be needed to form a strong majority government which can last several years.
“My very strong view is that the next government will have to have a number of political parties in it,” said Mr Donohoe.
“If Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are successful in agreeing the elements of a partnership amongst ourselves, a government will only be formed if it includes other political parties apart from my own party and Fianna Fáil.
“If I look at the scale of change needed in our country in a post-Covid world, if I look at the number of parties that campaigned on the need for change, and if I look at the need for a stable majority inside this Dáil, I believe it will be indispensable that this government has a broad range of political parties in it,” he added.
Echoing the Taoiseach’s view, Mr Donohoe hinted strongly too that the Labour Party could come in to play now that its leadership contest is at its conclusion.
“I’m conscious that another party is in the final moments of electing a new leader, which I respect,” he said. “But as a member of a party that is involved in formation discussions, that government must have a stable majority.
“It’s fair to say that many of the issues I’m engaging on relate to the economy post Covid-19 and the many challenges that were there beforehand and how we’re going to respond to them.”