Independent Alliance and Fine Gael still at odds over policies

Divisions over the health crisis, political reform, rail links, State appointments, and agriculture still threaten to derail talks between the Independent Alliance and Fine Gael about forming a Government.

Talks ended last night without agreement with a “number of roadblocks” remaining to be resolved.

It is understood that there was a “full and frank” meeting yesterday morning between the two sides over cardiac services at Waterford Hospital.

According to sources, promises made by Fine Gael several weeks ago were being reneged upon and that was the cause of some anger among the Alliance members.

“They were trying to move back from where they were before, which annoyed the hell out of us,” said one source.

Waterford TD John Halligan’s commitment to the deal hangs on getting a commitment for improved services at Waterford Hospital.

The attitude of Health Minister Leo Varadkar in the meetings was once again a bone of contention to some alliance members.

“Leo is Leo,” said the source. “He is not always the easiest man to deal with and he certainly doesn’t have the manner that some of the others do.”

It is also understood that there was frustration among the alliance over a lack of commitment from Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe on infrastructure demands such as road and rail projects.

Independent Alliance and Fine Gael still at odds over policies

Members of the Alliance left Government Buildings last night warning strongly that they will not be railroaded into any deadline by Fine Gael, but said they are serious about seeking a deal.

Talks will resume again this morning ahead of meetings of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil parliamentary parties, which are due to take place later today.

Speaking after leaving Government Buildings, several members of the Alliance said while good progress was being made, a deal is by no means certain.

Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice said some stumbling blocks over agriculture and rural affairs still remain. “We have put proposals to them so we are awaiting word back. There are some road blocks that remain,” he said.

Dublin Rathdown TD Shane Ross and Longford TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran revealed the issue of mortgage arrears consumed much of the talks yesterday.

“Mortgage arrears took up a lot of our day, but we can’t give details. We have agreed nothing at this stage, but we have made progress,” said Mr Ross.

“We are not working to particular deadlines. We are working to find a solution to consider what is on the table. We will not be pushed or railroaded into a deadline. But we are inclined to take this very seriously but not to say Thursday’s a deadline.”

Independent Alliance and Fine Gael still at odds over policies

Dublin Bay North TD Finian McGrath said that he wants to see real progress in terms of people waiting on trolleys in accident and emergency departments.

“Yeah, we have made some progress on disabilities. But we have a long way to go on some issues like health, crises in our A&E departments. We need to see progress on these issues,” he said.

“We are not going to be rushed or bounced into any decisions. Having people on trolleys is not acceptable.”

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