- Additional reporting by Aoife Moore
A government could be formed within the next two weeks, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
His comments come as negotiators look set to widen their talks with other groups after continued resistance from the Greens to join a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition.
A number of Labour and Independent TDs now believe they can work with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Martin have both agreed to develop a programme for government.
Mr Martin told Highland Radio that a government could be formed quickly: “I would hope in the next two to three weeks we could see a new government emerging.”
Mr Varadkar said the two parties would put together a framework for a government: “The idea then, if we can agree a common framework document, is to reach out to Greens, Social Democrats, Labour. Let’s see if they’re willing to become part of a new government that can help us deal with this crisis, and also rebuild the country and rebuild our society when it’s over.”
He said a final deal could take some time and would involve party conferences.
Meanwhile, a Labour TD has suggested his party could form part of a coalition involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Cork East TD Sean Sherlock is the first of the party’s six-strong Dáil group to say this.
“A lot of people have contacted me about that possibility,” he said. “It is something that is increasingly coming into focus, in my view.
“If the Green Party and the Social Democrats rule out coalition with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and if a government of national unity does not come about, then it is something that Labour needs to consider if it means that a stable government can be established.”
Other Labour TDs did not reply to queries. The party is currently holding a leadership contest, votes for which will be counted on Friday.
Elsewhere, Green TDs reiterated that a cross-party unity government should be formed. Neasa Hourigan said those encouraging the Greens to join in government were asking them to facilitate a “power-grab” from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. She said her party could not get a commitment from the other two for a 7% emissions target, or commitment to focus on public transport.
Party leader Eamon Ryan said “behind the scenes” there is growing interest in a government of national unity. He that what had happened in the Dáil in the past week in response to Covid-19 has effectively been a form of national unity.