The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that there is no Plan B for forming a government and rejecting the coalition deal could lead to a political crisis.
The proposed coalition between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party offers an opportunity for a stable government that could last until 2025, he told Newstalk Breakfast.
Some members of his party had advised him to have a Plan B, but he had decided not to do that because Fine Gael had entered the coalition talks with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party in good faith, he said.
“The three parties together won 51 per cent of the vote in the election," he said.
"I know there is a party out there that thinks 24.5 per cent is a majority – it’s not, 50 plus one is a majority and that is what we have.”
If the plan for government was rejected then his party would have to sit down and see what options were available to them.
Mr Varadkar said his party would have been happy to return to opposition after the election, but had been forced to “step up” when Sinn Féin failed to form a government.
Sinn Féin, despite their protestations, never really tried. They didn’t even come up with a framework document with the far-left. They voted for Mary Lou initially, but they couldn’t even agree a common policy among themselves.
“So, given that the opposition on the left were so incapable of delivering on any of the promises they made, we felt we should step back in and this was our best attempt and perhaps only attempt to form a government.”
Mr Varadkar warned that if his party voted against the coalition deal there was a danger that this could push Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin together “and we could have them in government within weeks.
“That is a real risk and we have to be wise to that.” While he did not think Sinn Féin would win a majority in an election, there was a risk that they could strengthen their position and become the largest party. There were some members in his party who thought that would be a good thing, he said.
“I know there may be some people who think it would be a great thing for Sinn Féin to get into government, wreck the country and in five years’ time, the people will be sorry and vote for Fine Gael again”.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has also said there is no Plan B for government formation. Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland he said the coalition represented an historic combination that would be “truly transformative.”
A government needed to be formed to respond to issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, he said. “We have to deal with the result of the election. We have a mandate to work with others to deliver a programme for government that is sustainable.”
Mr Martin said there was “no magic Plan B” and that a level of great detail had been involved in the programme for government.
This has taken a long time, it involves a lot of detail and compromise on all sides.
The Fianna Fáil leader added that he was uncertain what would happen if the deal was not passed, but he had received very positive feedback within his party. There was no pathway if it did not get through, he said, but it was unhelpful to discuss “speculative scenarios.”
Mr Martin refused to say if the position of Minister for Children would be retained, that was a matter for the three leaders to discuss as they were still working on the configuration of government departments.
“I am not going to unilaterally declare something here, but children will be centre stage of any government formation.”
When asked if he intended to lead Fianna Fáil into the next general election, Mr Martin said he did, but that the public did not want another general election during a pandemic. “People would be annoyed.”