No 'happy clappy' leap to coalition: Micheál Martin emphasises compromise as FG minister airs doubts

There will be "no happy clappy" leap from Fine Gael into a coalition with Fianna Fáil, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed says.
No 'happy clappy' leap to coalition: Micheál Martin emphasises compromise as FG minister airs doubts
Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin told Radio Kerry that there have to be compromises with the other parties in government.
Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin told Radio Kerry that there have to be compromises with the other parties in government.

There will be "no happy clappy" leap from Fine Gael into a coalition with Fianna Fáil, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed says.

“It is a difficult leap for us,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show. “This is really, really challenging for Fine Gael’s rank and file members.”

Mr Creed said that living in Cork North West made his particular support of the deal more complicated.

"Since my election, this has always been a Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil constituency. I live 10 miles from Béal na Bláth, so that in itself puts a historical context on this.

"This is really, really challenging for Fine Gael rank and file members, but at the end of the day, we do best when we do what's needed in the national interest.

"Some people look at our putative government partners and say look at their last period in government, but we have to look forward."

Mr Creed admitted it would be difficult for him to vote for a Fianna Fáil taoiseach but said he would do so in the national interest.

He was speaking as Fine Gael's youth wing, Young Fine Gael reiterated its opposition to coalition.

"As a Party, we believe Fine Gael is at its best when it governs responsibly, and genuinely seeks a Republic built on equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcomes. It is our members’ view that these values, and Fine Gael’s distinct identity, will be irreparably jeopardised by entering into a government with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

"Additionally, we believe such a government will strengthen the position of Sinn Féin in a future election — potentially undoing all of Fine Gael’s prudent governance and progress, domestically and abroad."

At the same time, Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin told Radio Kerry that there have to be compromises with the other parties in government, including a U-turn on ensuring the liquified gas terminal at Shannon goes ahead.

Mr Martin had supported the project but the programme for government says the new coalition, if formed, will withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common Interest list in 2021.

Instead, Mr Martin flagged the potential to grow wind energy.

“We can't force our way on every issue,” he said.

He also said he was “taking nothing for granted” about getting his party to vote for the coalition deal.

He said he was “confident” about it being approved but didn't underestimate the “challenges” in getting the party's 18,000 members to back it.

Mr Martin admitted there would be pressure on health services and spending in those areas with the Covid-19 pandemic and that the overriding priority for the new coalition would be “jobs and getting people back to work”.

The party leader also said he was considering which figures would be elevated to government, but that this would be decided if and after the deal is approved.

He also defended negotiations with the Greens, saying that under the terms of the pact some €1.5bn in carbon taxes collected would be diverted into rural agriculture schemes

Meanwhile, Independent TDs have yet to meet parties about how they could play a role in government. “They said they would be in touch on Monday but haven't been,” said TD Michael Fitzmaurice. Other Independents said they were at a loss to understand what the strategy was with the proposed coalition and any cooperation with them.

Wexford TD Verona Murphy said that the deal "has no substance until we see the economic policy".

"As they say, show me the money."

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