Four Cabinet seats — the price Fine Gael must pay for power

Enda Kenny will have to concede four Cabinet seats to secure the support of Independent TDs in his bid to be re-elected Taoiseach.

As talks with the Independent Alliance and the ‘Rural Five’ recommence this morning, Mr Kenny and his ministers will have to go beyond their desired number of three, if a government is to be formed.

It is understood that Katherine Zappone will be in Cabinet, as will one member of the group of Rural TDs.

However, the Independent Alliance of six TDs look set to demand two Cabinet seats in return for their support.

“If Zappone gets one and Denis Naughten’s group get one in return for three votes, then if the alliance has six votes, more would be needed,” said a source.

Several Fine Gael ministers, speaking to the Irish Examiner yesterday, also confirmed they will not veto Independents Shane Ross or Michael Fitzmaurice from becoming Cabinet ministers, should they be selected by their grouping to take office.

However, the fate of the alliance was not clear as Waterford TD John Halligan said he needs a deal on cardiac care for the southeast or he will not back a Fine Gael minority Government.

“If I don’t get an agreement, then I am out,” said Mr Halligan.

However, in a shift in their previous position, Mr Halligan said that should he decide not to enter government, he will not stand in the way of the other five members of the Independent Alliance from signing up to a deal.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Defence Minister Simon Coveney said Fine Gael will try to do all it can to secure Mr Halligan’s support, but only if it is in line with medical advice.

“We wont do anything that is inappropriate. It will have to be subject of a review, but we will only act in accordance with on medical advice,” he said.

Mr Coveney also made a fresh appeal to the Social Democrats and the Green Party to rethink their decision not to enter government.

“We want as diverse a Cabinet as possible. I would ask them to think again,” he said.

Mr Coveney said he hoped a deal would be secured by Thursday.

However, Mr Fitzmaurice said such a suggestion was “overly ambitious”.

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