The Labour Party has formally ruled out joining talks to form a government with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.
Party leader Alan Kelly today wrote to Michéal Martin and Leo Varadkar to inform them that he would be recommending his parliamentary party not join the talks, which are ongoing in Dublin today. The Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leader had earlier this week written to Mr Kelly to assure him that they would honour the public sector pay deal if Labour was in government.
The letter says that the two larger parties' commitment not to raise income taxes is at the heart of Labour's reluctance to join a government. Mr Kelly also expresses disappointment at the response he received from Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar, saying the two had not addressed his 21 questions.
"It is hard to see how we can rebuild and improve public services without some change in taxation and more extensive borrowing to maintain demand and capital investment in the economy until at least the end of 2021. A lack of clear direction on the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment is also of concern to us. Workers in affected sectors that have borne the brunt of the national effort to tackle Covid-19 cannot be left behind in the months to come.
"As there are now detailed negotiations underway on government formation between yourselves and the Green Party, I recommended to our Parliamentary Party today that at this time we would not take part in formal discussions on a Programme for Government.
"It was our united view that your talks with the Green Party should now be given the space and time to reach a conclusion as if successful, such a government would command a majority in the Dáil."
However, Mr Kelly does say that if the other parties change their minds on taxation, he would "look forward to hearing" from them.