Barry Cowen: Trinity deal ‘not justiciable’ leading us back to the polls

A Fianna Fáil negotiator has said his party could go to the polls at any time as the agreement reached with Fine Gael cannot be enforced by a court.

Speaking after it was reported he had mimicked and reported back on members of Fine Gael’s negotiation team at a parliamentary party meeting, Barry Cowen yesterday said the agreement is “not justiciable”.

As the ink was barely dry on the Trinity Treaty, Mr Cowen aired his frustrations about his opposing negotiation team at Fianna Fáil’s meeting on Tuesday evening.

The Offaly TD is understood to have told party members that acting Health Minister Leo Varadkar was more interested in sipping drinks than engaging in talks. “They want drinks at the Marker Hotel. We want pints with the people,” he is alleged to have said.

Turning to acting Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, he claimed he did not understand young farmers.

He said acting Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe simply obeyed the orders received from civil servants, while acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was portrayed as not being in touch with reality and unable to relate to those on welfare.

Although apparently comical in tone, his commentary is understood to have angered some in Fine Gael who are now worried any tensions between the parties may unsettle Independents who have yet to sign up to a minority government.

Mr Cowen yesterday moved to clarify his remarks by claiming they had been “taken completely out of the context” and he had not intended to “belittle” anyone.

He said he was making the point that “many in Fine Gael are far more right-wing on policy than they think they are in their own minds”.

On the deal itself he admitted that Fianna Fáil could force an election at any time by withdrawing their support as the agreement cannot be enforced by a court of law.

“We’re a party that is free as an opposition party to implement its manifesto. Because of the numbers because of the fact, the Dáil will help to instruct government rather than be dictated to by government.”

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