A senior Fianna Fáil figure believes his party needs at least 12 Independents to vote with them in order to lead a minority government and oust Fine Gael from power.
Éamon Ó Cuív made the remarks as he said one of the two parties will have to admit defeat in the next taoiseach vote, but that Thursday’s ballot could be adjourned to next Tuesday to allow space for detailed talks.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner as negotiations began between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Mr Ó Cuív said while he is not privy to discussions he believes his party needs the backing of 12 Independents “at a minimum”.
He said Fianna Fáil will struggle to form a government if it falls below this number because it must get to the mid-to-high 50s to be in charge of a credible minority government.
“The process forward is clear: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael will have to mutually come to some form of arrangement when one gets in front of the other,” he said.
“There will have to be some type of timescale [to how long a minority government will last], a whole-step approach to budgets involving government and opposition, but it all depends on what way the 15 Independents will be happy enough to jump.
“If they do jump, 12 or more puts Fianna Fáil back in the game, unless Labour wake up from the sidelines.
“Boxer [Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, a member of the rural TDs grouping] is Fianna Fáil, Sean Canney strongly is, I’d be very surprised if Maureen O’Sullivan votes with Fine Gael, and Mattie McGrath is risking a lot of local support [if he doesn’t vote with Fianna Fáil].”
Mr Ó Cuív said he believes “we have to have significant progress by Thursday” to form a government, and that the close proximity of the vote means it may be agreed to adjourn it until Tuesday.
He said “there seems to be a foregone conclusion Fine Gael will get the numbers, but there will be many, many dramatic changes over the next 10 days”.
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