TDs: we are not looking beyond Friday to seal the government deal

TDs from across the Dáil insist that they are not looking beyond this Friday for alternatives to the proposed programme for government, despite growing doubt that the Green Party membership will pass the deal.
TDs: we are not looking beyond Friday to seal the government deal
Fianna Fail's Darragh O’Brien said that he had a "number of good discussions" with the Greens and hoped they would form part of the government.
Fianna Fail's Darragh O’Brien said that he had a "number of good discussions" with the Greens and hoped they would form part of the government.

Additional reporting: Aoife Moore

TDs from across the Dáil insist that they are not looking beyond this Friday for alternatives to the proposed programme for government, despite growing doubt that the Green Party membership will pass the deal.

All three parties - Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens - will announce the results of their ballots on Friday evening, leading to a vote for Taoiseach in Dublin's Convention Centre on Saturday.

There had been suggestions that should the programme not pass, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would scramble to ensure the support of a number of independents in order to secure the vote for Michéal Martin as Taoiseach.

However, Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O'Brien, who was a member of the party's negotiating team, insists all eyes are on Friday. He said he was confident the deal would pass his party.

"Genuinely, I'm not looking past Friday. At the end of the day, we believe that the right thing to do would be to pass it, so that's where our focus is."

Mr O'Brien said that he had a "number of good discussions" with the Greens and hoped they would form part of the government.

Fine Gael's Joe Carey said that "it all hinges on Friday" and said he believed both his party and constituency would pass the document, with people "recognising the need to have a stable government".

While alternatives have been discussed, it is understood that Sinn Féin has not yet begun reaching out to what it calls the "parties of change". Party leader Mary Lou McDonald has said in recent days that she wants to form a "transformative government" in the event the programme is rejected. Ms McDonald has said that her party would form the "spine" of a bloc which could reach as many as 60 seats before negotiating with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil to form a government.

However, Rise TD Paul Murphy has ruled that scenario out.

"We are absolutely committed to forming a government excluding Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. We're not interested in a government where we're used to make up the numbers."

Likewise, there has not been any formal contact between the Green Party or Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

However, it's understood a number of Fianna Fáil TDs have made their feelings known to Leinster House colleagues that they would rather enter a coalition with Mary Lou McDonald's party in recent weeks, fearing electoral wipe-out in any future election if they're seen to implement unpopular Fine Gael-led policies.

Sources say Sinn Fein's Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty had made it clear to Green Party Eamon Ryan at the beginning of negotiations that his party would be "looking to talk to him and others if the deal is rejected".

Fianna Fáil sources say the Green vote has been a consistent source of worry for the party. One TD described himself as "a little nervous" about the ballot.

A Fianna Fáil source said: "There's a fair amount of enthusiasm for it in our party, and we're only expecting to vote 66-34 for it, so I don't know why we're expecting the Greens to pass it by 65-35 with everything that's gone on in the last week with them."

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