The 15 Independent TDs, who had been involved in intensive government formation negotiations over the past two weeks, had called for meaningful discussions between Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin.
However, last night a number of Independents said they may now not re-enter talks, pushing the possibility of another election even closer, after a 10-minute meeting between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael ended in stalemate.
Denis Naughten, one of the five rural Independent TDs who had been involved in talks, said it would be “pointless” to re-enter negotiations without firm assurances that a minority government would be supported and would last.
He said: “There is now an immediate responsibility on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil — seeing as they have rejected a partnership government — that they now sit down and agree how a minority government is going to operate over the next five years...
The two parties have created this stalemate and it’s up to them.”
Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said: “The two parties must now show us a clear road map as to how a minority could work and how it would be supported, otherwise it’s pointless for us to go into talks.”
John Halligan of the Independent Alliance said both parties should “hang their heads in shame”, adding he would be taking the weekend to decide on whether to proceed with government formation talks or not.
Mr Halligan said Independent TDs had spent time travelling from all parts of the country to take part in constructive negotiations, while the two party leaders had only spent minutes together.
“I think it’s shocking and appalling that the two main leaders of the two main parties can’t sit down and talk,” he said.
“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are like schoolboys fighting over a lollipop.”
Mr Halligan said he had “no appetite” to go back into talks, but would take the weekend to think it over.
“I will talk with my own people and my own advisors and talk to the other members of the Independent Alliance,” he said.
“I am not going to waste another four or five days when I could be working in my constituency.”
Dublin Central TD Maureen O’Sullivan said: “It’s obvious that party has been put first and not country.”
She also said there is now “no point” in continuing with talks unless an agreement on minority government is set between the two parties.
However, last night Michael Healy-Rae maintained he would “pick up the phone to anybody”.