Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s chief negotiators will meet again today to discuss the viability of a minority government after the issue dominated the second day of historic talks between the rivals yesterday.
Both parties are to examine a joint paper outlining their respective views on the feasibility of the plan. This came after they exchanged individual versions of how a minority government would work, following four hours of talks yesterday.
Just before 3pm, Fine Gael’s four-strong team of Simon Coveney, Leo Varadkar, Frances Fitzgerald, and Paschal Donohoe met with the Fianna Fáil quartet of Michael McGrath, Barry Cowen, Charlie McConalogue, and Jim O’Callaghan.
After an initial meeting on Monday night, described by both parties as “constructive and cordial”, the eight senior figures turned their attentions yesterday to the reality of how a minority government could be formed and whether it is a viable option, given the tense political stalemate.
All participants in the talks were maintaining a rigid ‘lockdown’ on information last night, declining to leak details of the meetings, in order to instil trust between the long-time political rivals.
However, it is understood that the meeting from 3pm to 5pm was dominated by discussions on how a minority government would work, with a similar focus in the evening session, as both parties attempted to take control of the negotiations.
It is believed that both parties touched on the reality that if either managed to form a minority government, there would be a need to ensure votes of confidence are limited, to take account of the new situation and to allow the Dáil to function.
While there had been suggestions the evening session would see policy issues addressed, it is understood the minority government discussions continued, with a joint paper on the issue due to be examined in detail today.
After the meetings, caretaker taoiseach Enda Kenny met with the four Fine Gael ministers to receive an update on events, while a similar debrief was expected for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
In separate but identical 18-word statements last night, both parties confirmed they will meet again today, while Fianna Fáil’s negotiation team lead and finance spokesman Michael McGrath told RTÉ before the meeting began that he was hoping for constructive talks to continue.
Fine Gael’s parliamentary party will meet today to discuss developments, while Fianna Fáil’s TDs and senators will meet tomorrow morning before the one-day resumption of the Dáil.
It was unclear last night whether tomorrow’s taoiseach nomination vote would still take place or be adjourned until next week to allow for negotiations to progress.
Meanwhile, Labour’s parliamentary party will meet tomorrow morning to decide what way to vote.
It is believed the party will abstain on the taoiseach nomination for Mr Kenny, meaning they will not block it, with a senior source saying: “We would not support it, but we would not block it. We want a government formed.”
Another source said the decision on which way to vote on all nominations would be left to the last minute, in order to allow for potential talks progression.
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