Government will not be formed this week, say frustrated Independents

Independents have ruled out any government-formation deal being struck this week.

Even if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil agree the parameters of a minority government, Independent TDs who have already taken part in negotiations will need time to pick through the document.

Members of the Independent Alliance, as well as a number of rural and non-aligned Independents, would have to be assured that their priorities are included and could request a second draft of a combined Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil document.

Fine Gael would hope to secure the support of the six members of the Independent Alliance which, along with Independents Michael Lowry and Katherine Zappone, would bring their numbers up to 58.

However, the party is aiming to gain the support of 60 TDs to create more stable minority government.

Two of the rural Independent TDs, Denis Naughten and Michael Harty, as well as Maureen O’Sullivan, could also join a minority government.

Yesterday, Michael Fitzmaurice said the Independent Alliance would be willing to look at any agreement made by the two larger parties.

“We are quite open to first of all looking at the document and second of all talking to them,” he said.

However, he said there are still unresolved issues with the document which Fine Gael drew up specifically for Independents and they would also have to be looked at.

“People are fed up waiting but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before there is any government,” said Mr Fitzmaurice

Fellow Independent Alliance member Sean Canney, TD for Galway East, said that frustration is now taking hold among TDs and the public but added that there would still be “a lot of work to be done” if agreement is reached between Mr Kenny and Mr Martin.

“We have been waiting now for a good while to come back into talks. I think it’s time that the two main parties came up with some sort of approach which is workable,” he said.

Mr Harty said a number of issues, including funding for mental health services, regional development and GP services would have to be addressed before he agrees to support a minority administration.

“The removal of €12m from the mental health budget would be an area that I will be looking for reassurances on,” he said.

“I haven’t heard anything other than the squabbling and bickering that is going on. We said from the outset that we would engage in any meaningful talks. We would have to see some sort of document which would underpin the formation of government.

“The alternative is an election and nobody wants an election.”

Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said he would be waiting until talks between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael end before making a decision on entering minority government or not but said that he would be willing to re-enter negotiations.

“The parties haven’t got their act together yet,” Mr Healy-Rae said.

He said that when any agreement if reached it will then have to be put to Independents, which will again take some time.

“It’s very hard to see anything happening this week. I have to see what is going to come out of this first.”

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