Simon Coveney 'showing signs of major strain' during government formation talks

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is “showing signs of major strain” at the talks aimed at forming a government as he tries to keep his “reluctant” party in line.
Simon Coveney 'showing signs of major strain' during government formation talks

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney
Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is “showing signs of major strain” at the talks aimed at forming a government as he tries to keep his “reluctant” party in line.

Several sources connected with the talks said Mr Coveney was visibly perturbed during negotiations today amid growing signs his Fine Gael colleagues are not that engaged in the process.

Mr Coveney was “up to high do” after a weekend spat between the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over revelations that officials are preparing plans for the holding of elections under Covid-19 restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Green Party have scored their first major victory of the government formation talks, securing agreement to radically improve the country’s direct provision system.

The Irish Examiner has confirmed that:

  • Commitment has been given to improve the conditions for those in direct provision including facilities, standard of accommodation and access
  • Agreement has been reached to seek to reduce the long waiting times for those in direct provision
  • The parties have accepted that progress on this issue will take several years but will require a “whole of government approach” to reform

Several sources connected with the talks have confirmed that despite differences between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in recent days on the justice agenda, agreement has been reached between the three parties.

“There is an acceptance that the system has to change but the stumbling block was how long it would take. I think the Greens just had to be shown it was not possible to fix it in one year,” said one senior source.

It is understood that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan urged caution on seeking to reform the system for fear of making Ireland increasing attractive to economic migrants.

It has been confirmed that the parties have reached agreement on the following areas:

  • Brexit
  • Northern Ireland
  • Justice and Law Reform

The parties discussed Climate Change and Housing today with further work needed. It has been confirmed that all sides agree on a ramping up of public housebuilding is required and more powers are to be given to the Land Development Agency (LDA) but the scale of the increase remains in dispute.

Tomorrow, Agriculture and the Irish language will be discussed by the teams and are not expected to throw up any major stumbling blocks.

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