Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael set to agree on ‘robust’ joint paper

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael set to agree on ‘robust’ joint paper

- with reporting from Daniel McConnell

A far greater role for the State in the provision of childcare, housing, and a single-tier health system will be at the heart of the joint paper to be agreed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil tomorrow.

The document, aimed at forming a majority government, will not be a policy but rather a process-driven document as to how the country can recover from the Covid-19 emergency.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said it is a “robust document” that will engage other parties.

He said: “I don’t want to overstate things, but I think we should be in a position to agree on the document tomorrow [Friday] between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“It does point heavily in the direction of greater State intervention in areas like childcare, moving towards single-tier health system, and transforming the experience in terms of access to housing, public and affordable housing, and also in terms of a new Green deal, and the opportunities that may arise from Covid-19 in terms of reconfiguring our economy and society and meeting those climate change goals and objectives that we all share.

“The important point is the philosophy, the orientation of the document, and the policies adopted in terms of housing, health, and climate, all in the context of economic recovery, because it’s becoming clear we’re going to be looking at a much slower recovery and a deeper recession than was initially anticipated, and some sectors might find it difficult to bounce back after Covid-19 is over.

“There will be further meetings between myself and the Taoiseach, of that I have no doubt. We want to make sure we have a majority, and that it will go five years. 

Some of the economic decisions that need to be taken, we will need to have confidence that decisive actions in relation to the economy in particular, that government can command a majority, ideally with a third party of course.

Fine Gael sources have insisted the document is a template for economic recovery, but also a realistic vision as to how the recent emergency measures can be phased out.

It will also include a mechanism for an affordable house purchasing scheme.

The document, which is a collection of “broad principles and priorities” will be offered as a pathway to coalition for a third party to make up the 80-TD majority needed to form a government. 

The main principles of the document are said to be around housing, health, transport, and the economy,

“There has been no resistance from Fine Gael on housing, this is an understanding for both parties, that for other parties to come in, it requires compromise,” said the source.

“It’s not sustainable to wait for another crash or pandemic, so we’re looking at more sustainable models, and we’ve had decent discussions.”

One senior source says that, although shorter and less detailed than previous programmes in Irish politics, the document will include “action points” that need to be addressed as a priority for the next government.

“The current crisis in housing, health, and the economy have all been targeted, and we have agreed a set of principles and certain action points on those issues,” the source added.

It is broad, but the detail is there behind it. There will have been more detailed documents, but for the purpose of discussion, this is what’s required.

“There is a lot of detailed work, and there have been specific items discussed but not notarised yet, because this is not a draft programme for government.

“It’s a set of agreed principles we want to present to smaller parties, and earnestly want them on board and hope they will engage and we expect that they will.

“All of us should be mindful of this crisis and planning for when we come out of this pandemic to deal with our economy and ensure jobs are protected.”

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