Enda Kenny to make an offer of talks with Fianna Fáil

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to “make an offer” to Fianna Fáil leader to begin coalition talks before he departs to the US early next week, it has emerged.

Enda Kenny to make an offer of talks with Fianna Fáil

There has been a significant shift within Fine Gael towards doing a deal with the old enemy with Mr Kenny reportedly willing to offer up to half the seats at Cabinet in order to remain in office.

“We are talking 50:50 split here, genuine partnership in government, because that is what people have voted for,” one senior source said last night.

Fine Gael is also reportedly ready to accept the principle of rotating the position of taoiseach in order to form a government, but has said the process would need to be managed successfully.

While Mr Kenny yesterday accepted he will not have enough support to be re-elected as taoiseach when the Dáil reconvenes on Thursday, he is now prepared to move quickly to begin the process of a deal with Fianna Fáil.

Senior party sources told the Irish Examiner last night that Mr Kenny will want to begin a process before he departs for the St Patrick’s Day engagements in Washington DC.

“Kenny will make a move post Thursday. Kenny will not board a plane for Washington and leave it. So I think things will move quicker than some people think, in terms of an offer from us,” said one Fine Gael figure last night.

Enda Kenny
Enda Kenny

There is a strong recognition within Fine Gael that whatever offer is made, it cannot be seen to be placing Fianna Fáil in a minority position.

“There is lessening in resistance in both parties to working together. The Fianna Fáil side is complicated by the need of having to go to an ard fheis, but his standing is high at the moment,” a source said.

There is also considerable anger within Fine Gael over Independent TD Shane Ross’s description of Mr Kenny as a potential “political corpse” in his weekend newspaper column.

“There is a sense of anger within Fine Gael because the Taoiseach went to great lengths to meet them and listen to them.

“Ross’ column was a disgrace. For Ross to call him a political corpse and Finian to take it up has left a very bad taste in our mouths,” the source added.

Shane Ross
Shane Ross

There is also a hardening of attitudes within both parties that a minority government simply isn’t workable because it would lack a democratic mandate.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Kenny said he accepted he will not be re-elected as taoiseach on Thursday.

He said: “The indications are that nobody will be elected as taoiseach on Thursday, you can never predict a situation like this”.

“But clearly the fact of the matter is that the taoiseach is elected by the Dáil and continues until that situation is changed.

“For me the work of government goes on, that is why I am here today and will be here again next week if that be so, in respect of dealing with serious issues,” Mr Kenny said.

“Clearly we have to have a government, the people and for the country and for my part as Taoiseach I will work in that area.

“We have had difficulties like this before and we have moved on, in a period of time I cannot put a date on that but naturally in my capacity as Taoiseach that the country deserve and that the people need,” Mr Kenny said.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney last night said there is no desire within Fine Gael to oust Mr Kenny but said his party may have to do the unthinkable and talk to Fianna Fáil about forming a government.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney

He said nothing will happen before Thursday and said the process of forming a new government could take between one month and six weeks.

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has become the highest-ranking Fine Gael politician to promise flexibility on water charges if the party is returned to government.

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