Government formation talks suspended as leaders cooperate to stop coronavirus spread

Government formation talks suspended as leaders cooperate to stop coronavirus spread

Government formation talks have been suspended but parties will resume efforts to form a new coalition next week while leaders cooperate in the battle to stop coronavirus from spreading.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the different party leaders are “working collectively” and that talks may resume next week with Fianna Fáil.

“People are dying... that should be our real focus, to get the politics of that right is the immediate priority, but not to ignore the other thing. But just in these days, in this moment, I think most politicians are recognising that the health crisis comes first.”

The remarks come after both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael gave a lukewarm reception to Green Party calls for a temporary national emergency government on Wednesday night and for government formation negotiations to be halted.

The two big parties were scheduled to open formal negotiations on working together in a coalition today, but this was abandoned as it emerged the country was going into shutdown over the virus.

Instead, Fianna Fáil sources say the talks will be picked up next week and will continue.

It is also expected that a scheduled vote for Taoiseach in the Dáil on Thursday may be postponed or cancelled. Health authorities have advised that indoor public gatherings of 100 people should not go ahead to help stop the virus spreading.

A full Dáil vote would require 160 TDs in the chamber. Fianna Fáil and Green Party figures suggested this might not happen now.

Leinster House authorities are also looking at how to minimise the number of TDs coming to the parliament complex, in conjunction with party whips.

Mr Ryan said his party is advocating mutual cooperation across parties rather than adversarial politics, to jointly meet the challenge of stopping the spread of the virus.

“During this immediate crisis, could we get a form of a political cooperation which gives confidence to our people that that’’s our real focus? Because everything is changed, everything. Nothing is normal at the moment or won’’t be for the coming number of weeks.”

Green Party health spokesman Ossian Smyth said the last thing politicians should be doing is negotiating. He disagreed with putting in new ministers while the coronavirus crisis is in full scale.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

“It’’s unimaginable that you would take out the health minister and find a new health minister now and then sort of show them where their new offices are. That couldn’’t happen at the moment because day to day this is changing, hour by hour. That would be unconscionable to me. The government is the government at the moment.”

Meanwhile, rural Independent TDs met Fianna Fáil government formation negotiators today over policy issues.

TDs Michael McNamara, Michael Fitzmaurice and Marian Harkin highlighted the regional concerns they want addressed if they are to be part of any government involving Fianna Fáil. Balanced aviation supports for the west including Shannon Airport was raised by Mr McNamara while the other two TDs spoke about supports for low and medium income farmers.

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