Some constituencies could win out in special Government support deal

TDs are to be offered direct access to the Government and potentially special treatment for their constituencies if they bolster the proposed three-way coalition.
Some constituencies could win out in special Government support deal
TD Denis Naughten.

TDs are to be offered direct access to the Government and potentially special treatment for their constituencies if they bolster the proposed three-way coalition.

Seasoned TDs being lined up for a deal to boost the coalition numbers for the next five years include Denis Naughten, Marian Harkin, and Michael McNamara. Newly-elected TD Cathal Berry is also in the mix.

The proposed Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Green coalition will also approach Independents Michael Lowry and Noel Grealish, although this is sparking criticism from within the latter party.

Senior coalition negotiating sources have also confirmed that the leaders of the three parties are planning to appoint up to 20 junior ministers — the maximum number permitted.

Independents confirmed they will meet party negotiators next week, ahead of the voting tallies by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Greens on the pact being announced on Friday.

Meetings are expected to take place on Monday and Tuesday next week.

Outgoing Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, offered Independents a Jackie Healy-Rae-type deal earlier this month. Such arrangements would see funding for local projects and access to ministers in return for supporting the government in Dáil votes.

The three parties make up 84 seats. This is only a slim majority beyond the 80 needed and Mr Varadkar has reiterated the need to build that support towards 90 with the help of Independents.

While three groups have met the parties over any role with the proposed government, specific deputies are being considered as likely backers.

Deputies Berry, Naughten, Harkin, McNamara, Lowry, and Grealish are considered strong potentials, especially given that several of these have worked supporting a government before.

Deputy Green leader, Catherine Martin, has slammed the idea of giving special treatment to any Independent TDs. She reiterated her concern that there are a number of Independent TDs who “have a different ethos” and are in conflict with the Green Party’s principles. No one should have preferential access to Ministers, she said, adding that if a single TD seeks information they should have equal access to members of the Cabinet.

Nonetheless, negotiators from the other parties dismiss this. One senior source said: “She is not a leader. This is how it works, for security. Their support is needed for this to last five years."

Meanwhile, negotiators have also confirmed that all three leaders are set to agree to appoint 20 junior ministers — the maximum allowed and one more than the current total in the outgoing government.

The move is seen as necessary in order to maximise support among leading TDs in the three parties and therefor strengthen the lifespan of the coalition.

It is understood the three parties will divide the 20 posts, with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael getting eight ministers of state each while the Green Party can appoint four.

The three-way proposed coalition has already agreed to appoint two super juniors to government, who will sit at the Cabinet table along with the government whip. These will be among the 20 ministers of state chosen by the three parties.

Ministers of state were increased from 10 to 15 in 1980 and then from 15 to 17 in 2007 and finally to 20 in 2007, under the Bertie Ahern-led Fianna Fáil government.

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