MEP Brian Hayes has called for a grand coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in government for five years in order to hold the centre ground and a majority in the Dáil.
In surprise remarks, the former minister said politics in Ireland had become “toxic, polarised, and extremely personalised”.
Public commentary portrayed Ireland as “a kind of a hell hole of Calcutta” where nothing is achieved, but the country could not move forward unless the government enjoys a majority, he said.
His remarks will be noted as he was director of elections for Fine Gael last year. Other senior party figures have made similar calls to hold the centre ground in politics in recent days, including Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. However, none have gone as far as to call for a grand coalition with rivals Fianna Fáil.
Speaking last night to the MacGill summer school in Glenties, Donegal, Mr Hayes said: “There are today three big blocks in Irish politics — Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin. Whenever the next election comes, the country badly needs a government that can do things in the long-term interest of the country.
“That re-quires a majority in the Dáil over a five-year period. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil under their current leadership will not enter a coalition with Sinn Féin. Without Sinn Féin, the only logical centre ground government has to be FG/FF in a grand coalition for a five year term.
“I believe such a government could make the right choices for the next generation sure in the knowledge that they would have a working majority in the Dáil. It works in other countries, it can work here.”
He also spoke about how Ireland had benefited from the EU and had been transformed over the last 50 years.
But there were still a lot of negative speeches and remarks made about the country, despite its recovery.
“For whatever reason, our politics and our public commentary gorge out on portraying Ireland as a failure,” he said. “A kind of hell hole of Calcutta where nothing has been achieved.”
Having worked in the European Parliament, he said politics here and abroad had changed: “Our politics in recent years has become very toxic, polarised and extremely personalised.”
He also spoke about the need for Ireland to embrace the EU, even in these more uncertain times with Brexit.
It was far from perfect, mistakes had been made, but at last a more pro-European leadership was taking hold, he added.
However, his remarks about Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil joining forces will spark debate and follows previous discussions on a grand coalition leading up to last year’s general election. Fianna Fáil at the time rejected any suggestion of entering government with their rivals. But the fresh overtures from Fine Gael will likely force the party to respond.
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