Independents order Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin stop ‘pussyfooting’ around

Business leaders and Independent TDs have mounted pressure on Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin to meet over the weekend.

After leaving marathon talks with Fine Gael which went on for more than 40 hours this week, Independents ordered the two party leaders to “grow up” and to stop “pussyfooting” around.

Voxpro chief executive Dan Kiely said many global firms such as Google and Airbnb have chosen Ireland because of its political stability and urged Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to engage in meaningful discussions.

Last night, Mr Kenny ruled out talks over the weekend. He said he hoped Fianna Fáil would now “act responsibly” but added that politics is “never going to be the same again”.

“The people have given an unprecedented spectrum in the way that they have voted and I actually see an opportunity here for a real sense of openness,” he said.

Further positive economic predictions due out next week could help open up breathing space for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to begin negotiating matters for a minority government.

Although discussions between Fine Gael, the Independent Alliance and the five rural Independent TDs were due to wind up yesterday, they will now meet again on Monday and Tuesday when Fine Gael will present “worked-up” documents on the main issues discussed this week.

Independents are also due to meet with Fianna Fáil early next week.

Housing had been a contentious topic during the Fine Gael discussions and it is understood that the role of Nama in providing more social housing than it is currently offering will be explored on Monday.

Nama is due to raise up to €2bn from the sale of parts of its loan book and those in discussions are looking at the possibility of getting the agency to reinvest this into building more social hosing.

However, one of the largest frustrations among Independents centred on the lack of dialogue between Mr Kenny and Mr Martin.

Denis Naughten said: “We have consistently said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael need to sit down together; they need to talk about how a minority government would work, how the Dáil is going to work in this new environment.”

This was echoed by Voxpro founder Mr Kiely, who employs 1,500 people, writing in today’s Irish Examiner. “The decision of the Irish electorate in February’s general election was abundantly clear. The people want change and stability. And there is only one possible political combination which can provide both. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil must answer Ireland’s call and form a coalition government,” he said.

Sources within Fianna Fáil say fresh exchequer figures, expected on Monday, could help allow both sides resolve their demands when leaders Mr Martin and Mr Kenny begin talks.

Increased employment, more taxes and potentially a bigger ‘fiscal space’ to spend in the immediate years would allow for a broader agreement, including possibly breaching differences on Irish Water, say party sources.

However, Mr Kenny last night said: “I don’t want to raise expatiations here, the formation of government is a serious business, we have been really serious about business with Independents and smaller parties over the past five days. I cannot give you the outcome of when this will be finalised but I hope to continue to work at it diligently and constructively.”

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