Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaders to agree policy document today

Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin will meet this morning to sign off on the policy document which will form the basis of a coalition government.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaders to agree policy document today

Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin will meet this morning to sign off on the policy document which will form the basis of a coalition government.

It is understood that the document, which is around 18 pages, will contain a number of commitments on State building of homes, college fees, and a living wage, in a bid to redraw the “social contract” in Ireland.

The Taoiseach and the Fianna Fáil leader, and their respective parties’ negotiating teams, hammered out the details of the document over the weekend.

Its approval by both Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin would see it sent to the respective parliamentary parties for approval.

The document will set out Ireland’s plan to recover from the economic shock caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, and is expected to contain a number of initiatives for small and medium companies, including a stimulus package for businesses affected by the downturn in the economy in recent weeks.

The two parties will also include a plan to arrest the rise in college fees, but the abolition of those fees is not believed to be planned.

While the document is short — the current programme for government is 155 pages — it is described as being “very broad” in both its language and range of topics. It will contain a number of items aimed at persuading smaller parties in the Dáil — the Greens, Labour, and the Social Democrats — to join a coalition.

Sources close to the deal say it will be “tempting” to parties of the left, containing commitments to increase the minimum wage close to the living wage of €12.30, as well as significantly scaling up the Government’s commitment to build social housing — aiming to build between 50,000 and 60,000 new social homes a year.

One section, on childcare, is thought to be specifically aimed at the Social Democrats. It will discuss the establishment of a series of pilot-based schemes which would overhaul childcare provision in Ireland.

Sources within the smaller parties have said that they remain open to reading the document, but the question of whether they will move forward with negotiations would hinge on whether the document is aspirational or tangible in their eyes.

Mr Varadkar has repeatedly said for the last two weeks that he believes one, if not all, of the centre-left/left parties must come to the table in order to ensure a stable government is formed.

That assertion has framed much of the finer edges of the document, though it is understood that the scale of spending either pledged or hinted at is much lower than planned prior to the Covid-19 crisis.

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