Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that a policy document between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil could be ready this week, but that a second election is unlikely.
Speaking as negotiating teams from both parties met in Dublin to seek to agree a policy document, Mr Varadkar said the paper will seek to agree how a majority government would work.
“We’re ready to agree a framework document on policy and also on how a new government operates this week, but of course it takes two parties to agree,” he said.
“Then the intention is if we can agree to that, approach other parties, and perhaps groups of Independents to see if they’re willing to form a new government to help us through this emergency to help us get our society and our economy going again and also to look to the future to some of those long term challenges that haven’t gone away, and will still be with us, when this crisis ends.”
Mr Varadkar said he does not envisage a second general election happening despite the delay in forming a government.
“So that’s the kind of timeline at the moment. I don’t envisage there being a second election, I don’t even know how we would conduct the election in the current context. And as you know when the results came in from the election two months ago, my party took the view that we should go into opposition,” he said.
“Even though we lost narrowly, we were defeated, and we felt the right thing for us was to go into opposition at that time, we gave the other parties two months now to form a government and they haven’t done so. And for that reason we felt that it is our responsibility, to the people and to the nation, to be available to serve in government, but we can only do that with other parties, and that’s what we’re seeking to happen now.”
Mr Varadkar said he is aware that any policy document will need to attract a third party, but he will not bully any party into joining government.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said he thinks Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael “can make it work this time” in forming a government.
Speaking on South East Radio, Mr Coveney said he wants other parties involved and that he thinks the Green Party, Labour, and Social Democrats will re-evaluate when they see the framework document.
It is important that a majority government be formed as soon as possible, according to Mr Coveney, as new legislation may have to be passed and decisions reached in the coming weeks that will not be popular. To do that will require a majority in the Dáil, he pointed out.
Meanwhile, TDs agreed that a full sitting of the Dáil to elect a taoiseach will take place in the Convention Centre in Dublin.
The social-distancing guidelines mean that Leinster House is too small to host a sitting where all 160 TDs are required to attend.
The decision was taken by the Dáil business committee yesterday and work will now begin on ensuring the venue is ready.
It was also decided that a sitting of the Dáil, with a reduced number of TDs, will take place at Leinster House on April 16.
There, the Taoiseach, finance minister, and health minister will face questions on the Covid-19 crisis.