Arrears relief deal key to Dáil support

Struggling mortgage-holders could be in line for some welcome relief after Independence Alliance TDs laid out the terms for their support of Fine Gael.

As Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil finally reached agreement for a minority government, the attention will now turn to whether Independents will come on board.

Simon Coveney, the acting agriculture minister, said he was “hopeful” the country would have a Taoiseach by Thursday evening. He also said that the support of “60 or more TDs” in a vote for Enda Kenny is “achievable.”

The Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil deal includes agreement to extend mortgage interest relief, to reduce the USC, for a new public sector pay commission, funds to reduce surgery waiting lists, and increases in rent supplement.

Fianna Fáil would essentially support three Fine Gael budgets while in opposition, abstain from any motions of no confidence, and have leaders Mr Kenny and Micheál Martin meet to resolve “significant” issues.

Fianna Fáil will also not object to any Cabinet reshuffle under the minority government.

Acting transport minister Paschal Donohoe said the deal would be “historic” when the written text is concluded.

The three-part document, includes sections on how the mechanics of support will work with Fianna Fáil, how water charges will be addressed, and agreed policies.

However, it is understood there is still no agreement in writing between the two parties on how water charges could be re-introduced after their suspension.

Fianna Fáil chief negotiator Michael McGrath said his party could meet over the weekend, following the completion of the talks which he described as a “torturous, long and difficult”.

Attention now turns to the Independents, whose support is needed when Fianna Fáil are expected to abstain in vote for Taoiseach, possibly next week.

Fine Gael will meet the Independent Alliance on Monday morning and the rural alliance of TDs that evening.

The deal must also be approved at parliamentary party meetings, which may take place this weekend or next week.

It has now also emerged that, in the last three weeks, documents on the mortgage arrears crisis have passed between the Independent Alliance and Fine Gael negotiators. The talks have also included face-to-face meetings with Mr Kenny and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The Independent Alliance has secured agreement from Fine Gael to develop their mortgage arrears plan.

Alliance members Sean Canney and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran spoke with Finance Minister Michael Noonan on Thursday, who promised to cost the proposal.

Mr Kenny is also expected to begin examining the issue of who may be ministers in the new government, with speculation that Independents could be in line for at least three senior posts and two junior roles.

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