Kenny offers to host talks; Independents accuse parties of 'playing games'

Kenny offers to host talks; Independents accuse parties of 'playing games'

Update 6.36pm: The Independent Alliance have said neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael have given a clear answer to their invitation of a round-table meeting tomorrow writes Political Reporter Elaine Loughlin.

Independents have accused both parties of playing “absolute games” and it is now time they “woke up”.

Shane Ross said the Independent Alliance had written to both Mr Kenny and Mr Martin seeking an “urgent meeting “to bring the two parties together within 24 hours.

But they received replies from both leaders which did not directly respond to the request.

“The Taoiseach said he is willing to host a meeting, bring all parties together, he didn’t respond to the invitation which we issued and he didn’t give a timeline on it, he also appeared to be referring the old idea of a coalition.

“Micheál Martin has said he is willing to meet us within 24 hours, it’s not clear at this stage whether he would include the Taoiseach in that.

“This is a matter of extreme urgency and any playacting should not be tolerated.”

Mr Ross added: “We are not clear what the relationship would be between them will be in minority government.”

East Galway TD Sean Canney said the Independent Alliance want to ensure that a stable government is created.

He added that the international community is now looking at Ireland and a lack of government could impact on the economy.

“The people of this country deserve better than what they are getting from the two main parties. It has been played out like a game of football, who has the ball, who wants to be captain. It’s time for them now to sit down in a room calmly and coolly,” Mr Canney said.

Michael Fitzmaurice added that the Alliance would be available to talk over the coming day.

“We will make ourselves available anywhere in the next 24 hours no matter where we have to drive to we will do that.”

Independent Alliance member Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran claimed Independents had “shown the way” adding that “with the tow political parties it’s all about who’s in control, who has the power.

“We are not saying that we are saying we are there to government, we are there to participate and let’s get around the table and sort this out once and for all.

“I think it’s time they woke up,” he said.

Update 5.48pm: Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny is "prepared" to host a meeting with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and all Independents who have taken part in talks to date after being urged to do so by a key Independent group, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

In a letter to the Independent Alliance after 5.30pm this evening, the Fine Gael leader confirmed he is willing to participate in the potentially crucial round-table talks.

Kenny offers to host talks; Independents accuse parties of 'playing games'

This afternoon, the Independent Alliance - which is comprised of Shane Ross, Finian McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice, John Halligan, Sean Canney Kevin 'Boxer' Moran - raised the pressure on Ireland's two largest political parties by insisting they need to meet again.

In a letter to Mr Kenny the Alliance - which had itself come under pressure from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to decide who it will back for government - said it wanted an answer on a meeting between it, Mr Kenny and Mr Martin within 24 hours.

Responding to the request in his own letter to the Alliance this evening, Mr Kenny said he is "prepared to host such a meeting".

He confirmed: "I intend to write to all Independent members and to the Fianna Fáil leader to that effect."

Earlier: A potential future Fianna Fáil leader has insisted the "blame game" over Ireland's political stalemate must end and that he is willing to open talks with Fine Gael writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Juno McEnroe.

The party's finance spokesperson Michael McGrath, who shares the Cork South Central constituency with party leader Micheál Martin, made the comments after another day of stand-off between the country's two largest parties.

While Mr McGrath is on Fianna Fáil's four-strong negotiating team and is believed to favour some form of Coalition, it is the first time he has made such detailed comments on the issue.

Kenny offers to host talks; Independents accuse parties of 'playing games'

Speaking to RTÉ this evening, the senior Fianna Fáil TD said trust is essential for any working relationship and that it must be rebuilt between Fine Gael and his own party.

He said now is the time for cool heads and that the "rhetoric" of recent days between acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Mr Martin and others needs to be toned down.

Saying the "blame game" must end, Mr McGrath also said that Independents remain central to discussions.

However, he said if no agreement can be reached, he would be willing to open talks with Fine Gael as a member of Fianna Fáil's negotiating team.

Mr McGrath said "we have to avoid a second election" as it will be "costly, unnecessary" and is unlikely to lead to any significant change in result.

He added that the arguments are this stage are "circular, we're going around in circles at the moment" and that "a minority government is where we have to go, but we're not there yet".

On Thursday, the vast majority of Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party - made up of TDs and senators - backed Mr Martin's decision to outright reject Mr Kenny's Wednesday night offer of an "equal partnership" Government deal.

However, while a senior TD said there was no "fire and brimstone" moment, a number of the party's TDs also questioned whether the move was the right approach during the four-hour meeting.

They included Marc Mac Sharry, John McGuinness, Jackie Cahill, Fiona O Loughlin, Billy Kelleher, Robert Troy and John Brassil.

Mr Kelleher, who was Fianna Fáil's director of elections, and Mr Troy are understood to have raised the question for practical reasons due to the current numerical breakdown of the Dáil.

Mr McGrath was notably less vocal in his views during the meeting, but asked how a minority government would work in practice.

He has repeatedly held his own counsel on the stalemate since the general election.

It is so far unclear what response if any Fianna Fáil headquarters will make to Mr McGrath's remarks.

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