Government formation: Fine Gael approve programme for government

The total vote cast was 674, meaning a turnout of 95%.
Government formation: Fine Gael approve programme for government
Fine Gael headquarters were confident in the lead up to the vote that it would be passed, as concern grew over the membership of Fianna Fáil and Green Party members who are less likely to vote for the deal.

Fine Gael members have voted in favour of the draft programme for government document for a coalition with Fianna Fáil and The Green Party.

The overall result was 80% in favour and 20% against the programme for government.

The total vote cast was 674, meaning a turnout of 95%.

According to the party, the breakdown of votes were:

    Parliamentary Party
  • Approved: 90%
  • Not approved: 10%
    Council of Local Representatives
  • Approved: 57%
  • Not approved: 43%
    Constituency Delegates
  • Approved: 71%
  • Not approved: 29%
    Executive Council
  • Approved: 85%
  • Not approved: 15%

Vote counting began at 1:30pm and results were announced at 4pm from the party's headquarters in Dublin centre.

Fine Gael headquarters were confident in the lead up to the vote that it would be passed, as concern grew over the membership of Fianna Fáil and Green Party members who are less likely to vote for the deal.

Fianna Fáil need a majority of support while the Greens need two-thirds of members to approve of the deal

A result that Fine Gael president Leo Varadkar said he "wasn't entirely sure" he'd win, and said it was a strong mandate for entering government.

Just after the vote, Mr Varadkar said he was delighted with the result and had spoken to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who confirmed was hopeful his party would also pass the deal.

"As president of Fine Gael I'm pleased to confirm that my party has voted 80% to 20% in favour of joining the coalition, all sections of the party, parliamentarians, national executive and constituencies voted in favour," he said.

"So Fine Gael is going to enter a third term in government and this new coalition united and strong, and we're looking forward to helping get the country through the Covid emergency, getting people back to work, businesses open and pursuing some of the reforms we got started in the last couple of years."

Fine Gael were widely expected to vote for the coalition, however concerns had been raised in recent weeks over the membership vote of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

"I was speaking to leader of Fianna Fáil, who said early indications are good, it's too early yet say from The Green Party, but I'm confident and hopeful that we'll see all three parties endorsing this coalition agreement today, and able to establish new government tomorrow and get down to work and get busy that's the most important thing."

Mr Varadkar said he would not be phoning colleagues to inform them of cabinet positions on Friday, but would do it on Saturday.

Local councillor's votes represented the lowest of the Fine Gael electoral college group, which had been expected by the party headquarters, voting for the programme: Yes 57% to No 43%.

It's understood just one of the 27 Cork Fine Gael councillors voted against the deal, with the local Fine Gael members said to be in favour of the deal in a 2:1 ratio.

Carlow's Rathvilly Fine Gael Councillor Brian O’Donoghue said as many as five out of the six Fine Gael councillors in Carlow's council voted against the deal.

"I'm pretty sure it was 5-1 against," he said.

'If you enlist, you must soldier'

"We're footsoldiers and we're often the ones who have to defend and explain what happens in government, that means now we'll have to defend the Greens or Fianna Fáil too.

"We have to just toughen up I suppose, if you enlist, you must soldier.

"My concern was with the programme for government is that so much of it was aspirational, it was a long list of ambitions, but too much so.

"We're going into a massive period of uncertainty, and I don't see how having a third party who have their own agenda and concerns, and adding them in is going to be the secret to having these policies implemented."

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