Fine Gael open to going into opposition

Fine Gael may consider going into opposition if it fails to win over more Independents than Fianna Fáil, despite Enda Kenny previously saying he will not back a minority Micheál Martin-led government.

However, a senior Fianna Fáil TD last night said his own party needs at least 12 of the 15 Independents available to form a credible minority government, a figure that is far from likely to occur.

The apparent race for opposition was indicated last night as Ireland’s two biggest parties finally sat down for talks, 44 days after the election.

The first meeting began at 7pm in Government Buildings, with both parties describing the 90-minute discussion as “constructive and cordial” in identical but separate statements.

However, while all members of the rival teams were in lock-down last night to help build trust, those outside the room continued attempts to gain the upper hand.

Although caretaker taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously ruled out backing a Fianna Fáil-led minority government, two Fine Gael sources told the Irish Examiner the option is “a live one”.

At the same time, Fianna Fáil’s agriculture spokesperson Éamon Ó Cuív said his party will need at least 12 Independents to have any chance of leading a minority government. He said Thursday’s ballot could be delayed until next Tuesday as talks have only just begun.

Speaking on RTÉ, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said a government must be formed this month and that it would be “wrong” to force a second election.

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