Non-Irish Water issues close to being resolved

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil’s negotiating teams are today expected to finalise a series of non-Irish Water issues equally central to any government formation deal.

The matters, which are believed to be close to resolution, include deals on rent supplement, mortgage relief, health reforms, childcare, and schools services.

It is believed the parties’ talks teams outlined the need to agree on the points to ensure any deal leads to a viable government. However, none of the issues are likely to prevent the deal from being signed off on before the bank holiday weekend.

On rent supplement, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are believed to differ over whether a flat increase should be introduced or if it should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Childcare costs are also continuing to feature,with the parties still discussing whether some form of tax credits system could be introduced, with Fine Gael continuing to back outgoing Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly view the move will just result in creches and other services raising their prices.

On health, a key matter is Fianna Fáil’s insistence the national treatment purchase fund should be re-introduced, with the emergency department crisis and chronic budget difficulties also being noted.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are also discussing whether the pupil-teacher ratio in classes can be reduced further by employing more teachers and if significant guidance counsellor funding cuts can be addressed.

Final changes to mortgage relief plans are also expected to be concluded today, before the deal to allow Fianna Fáil to “facilitate” a Fine Gael minority government is agreed over the next 24 hours and sent to Independents central to a government being formed this weekend.

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