The Green Party has insisted that providing for added public transport should take priority over the delivery of major new motorways including the M20 between Cork and Limerick in talks with Fine Gael.
The Greens prioritised the provision of “radical” new measures to deliver large scale cost-rental homes in Dublin, in their talks with Fine Gael on Monday.
Talks will continue this morning on the state of the national finances and while the talks were described as “cordial” and “good-natured” by both sides, there is a recognition that today’s discussions are likely to be more difficult, as they were with Fianna Fáil last week.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is set to give an overview as to where the public finances stand and both sides yesterday said there were clear differences as to where the parties stood yesterday on several key areas including health, housing and the climate agenda.
All 12 Green TDs faced off against the Fine Gael team which included Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Mr Donohoe and Housing Minister Eoghan Harris.
The Greens are insisting that two publicly-owned sites at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines and Broadstone Bus Depot in Phibsboro are ideal locations to build these cost rental spaces.
With nearly 24 hectares of central land in use at these sites, they could be put to much better use as accommodation. This would create 3,000 centrally located homes for people to live in affordably, the party says.
Eamon Ryan, the party leader, said the talks were “detailed and informative” but insisted there was no rows, just policy differences.
The talks broke off into various workshops and during a 40-minute workshop on transport, Mr Ryan said his party spoke up for the delivery of public transport over major motorways.
Fine Gael repeatedly insisted the party is happy to talk to all parties about policy and to exchange views as to how government works, but these are not talks about forming a government.
“The party is still preparing for opposition,” a spokesman said.
The Dáil is set to convene on Thursday and while the Business Committee said TDs will not vote on nominations for Taoiseach, there was a call from Brendan Howlin that a vote should happen.
Sinn Féin appeared to be ready to change its mind and support Mr Howlin’s call and Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have said they will not stand in their way.
Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar admitted many voters were “very distressed and offended” by the failure of Fine Gael to address the housing crisis.
“I think housing, homelessness was a really important issue in the election that a lot of people are very distressed and offended at the fact that we didn’t make more progress when it comes to homelessness,” he said.
“And obviously, the housing crisis has affected so many people in so many different ways, whether it’s people in their 20s or 30s, who are still living at home at the low paying really high rent, so I think housing was a really real issue in this election. I do feel we made a lot of progress in the last year or two,” he added.
“But I think the public took a different view that we didn’t do enough. Now we need to reflect on that. And refresh our policies when it comes to housing and see if there is more that we could have done, or at least things that we can call for an opposition that the new government should be doing.