No increase to third-level fees in next government, sources say

No increase to third-level fees in next government, sources say
Other outstanding issues between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party include agriculture, enterprise, and climate. The talks are expected to go on late into tonight.

There will be no increase to third-level fees under the next government, according to talks sources.

It’s understood Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party have agreed, that despite calls from some within the sector to increase fees in order to protect Irish universities, there will be no additional fees for irish students.

One ministerial negotiator told the Irish Examiner that the Green Party will have an economic ministry in the next government.

The source made clear that a repeat of the economic Management Council, which existed in the Fine Gael/Labour government is not likely but, some forum to agree key economic matters will be in place.

The Green Party are not likely to occupy either at the Ministry of Finance, or the Department of Public expenditure reform but are likely to take at least one of the junior ministries in those departments.

Fine Gael sources said they are confident of retaining Finance, while Michael McGrath of Fianna Fàil is likely to be Public Expenditure Minister.

Outstanding issues between the three include agriculture, enterprise, and climate while the talks are expected to go on late into Friday night.

Housing saw a “huge chunk done” in recent days but also still has issues left outstanding.

While one senior Green source said: “We need to see clear policy about the emissions targets and that’s not been forthcoming so far.”

Green sources say that there has been concern that the reference group has not heard from their TDs consistently due to the “flat out” talks, and that due to time constraints could be “railroaded” into decisions.

Meanwhile, Greens deputy leader Catherine Martin has addressed her leadership rival Eamon Ryan's use of a slur in the Dáil: “Eamon is a thoroughly decent man who realises he made a mistake.

He has apologised and will learn from it. I've been in touch to offer my support,” she tweeted on Friday.

“My focus remains on the ongoing Programme for Government negotiations, which will continue over the weekend.”

Sources within Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been privately briefing colleagues that the programme for government will be completed on Sunday.

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