Only thing missing from FF/FG policy document is 'free WiFi and Netflix for everyone' says McGuinness

The major concern about the policy framework document during the Fianna Fáil meeting was how it was going to be paid for.
Only thing missing from FF/FG policy document is 'free WiFi and Netflix for everyone' says McGuinness

The major concern about the policy framework document during the Fianna Fáil meeting was how it was going to be paid for.

TD for Carlow-Kilkenny John McGuinness reportedly told the meeting that the only thing missing from the document was "free WiFi and Netflix for everyone".

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The meeting, which was held via teleconference, was heavily dominated by questions from TDs and Senators about costs after they were told by party leadership that the Irish economy will be facing a €20-25bn budget deficit and 25% unemployment.

Although sources confirm there was "broad agreement" about contents of the document, many flagged concerns over how the economy would look post-Covid-19 and cautioned against promising the Irish public promises they would not be able to keep, including a promise not to raise taxes or USC.

One source said: "No one could complain about what's in it, but it's all aspirational.

"They took a heading and threw every single idea that they had in the context of that subject.

"It's how its going to be put together in a programme for government that is the issue, no one can give time frame or a cost.

"Many people queried how it could be paid for given the commitment on not raising income taxes, or reducing payment levels in the civil service.

"The leadership say it will be provided for in the uptick in the economy after Covid-19, and this will pay for everything.

"Other people asked why after nine and a half years, why couldn't have Fine Gael implemented these things before?

"It's not achievable, but no one raised that as this is seen a mainly aspirational document.

"Other parties will be invited with their shopping lists that will never be implemented either."

Éamon Ó Cuív, TD for Galway West reportedly raised the possibility of a "national government" during the meeting, as a possible alternative to a coalition with Fine Gael, which he believes may not be accepted by the party membership.

Speaking after the meeting Limerick TD Niall Collins said the document was welcomed by the party, but they had been "keen to stress that this is just the beginning, upon which to start on forming programme for government, it's a starting point".

"How its going to paid for is a concern, but a starting point of no austerity is absolutely the way to go, and allow for the EU stimulus to restart the economy," he said.

Some members of Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party say the possible coalition with Fine Gael will spell the end of the party for good.

The policy document seems to have widened that gap, with one elected representative telling the Examiner: "

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"With this deal we have essentially put Sinn Fein into opposition for the next five years and made them the credible alternative," the source said.

"We've played right into their hands, because when the cuts come after Covid-19, and they are coming, Sinn Fein can stand up and argue against them.

"The only policy the party has had for over a year is to make Micheal Martin the Taoiseach, the pandemic might help that, but it could end the party, and everyone knows, but we only have bad options."

A number of TDs say they believe that Ireland should not expect to have a government before July.

Fianna Fáil would require a membership vote at an Ard Fheis vote to pass the coalition deal, unless the party Ard Comhairle voted with a two-thirds majority to bypass such a vote.

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