Fine Gael to hold meeting on future coalition options

By Juno McEnroe and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Fine Gael TDs and senators have been told the party is to consider holding a special conference after the next general election on coalition options for going into government.

Addressing the weekly parliamentary party last night, parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon also said the matter will be discussed by Fine Gael’s national executive next week.

Such an option would mirror similar special conferences Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin must have on entering government and would allow ordinary members to decide on Fine Gael’s coalition options.

The move comes after recent debate about if Fine Gael would be willing to share power with Sinn Féin after the next election. This was sparked after junior minister Jim Daly saying he had “no ideological objection” to Sinn Féin being in government.

However, the special post-election conference option will have to be approved by Fine Gael at its Ard Fheis in November. The move would allow grassroots Fine Gael members to block any potential coalition with Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil after the next general election.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said during his 2017 leadership race commitments that he wanted to give grassroots members the right to decide on future coalitions.

Last night’s parliamentary party meeting also heard Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe outline his decision yesterday to vote against the return of bonuses for AIB as government shareholder.

He is believed to have said the Government cannot be seen to ratify bonuses “today” while banks are still embroiled in the tracker mortgage scandal.

Mr Varadkar also at the meeting accused Fianna Fáil, which underpins his Government, of promising everything to everyone.

He said these promises may cost billions of euro and he will keep a record of them all. He claimed the party would either renege on such promises or actually bankrupt the country again, a criticism strongly rejected by Fianna Fáil last night.

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