Talks about talks on new government get under way in #Ireland

| February 25, 2020

The main political parties in Ireland have commenced a series of ‘talks about talks’ as the quest to form a new government continues following the inconclusive outcome of the general election on 8 February, writes Ken Murray in Dublin.

In what could be described as a political version of speed dating, the parties are making romantic eyes at each other in a delicate attempt to see who is compatible with who as the Irish people wait anxiously for a formal change of government.

Outgoing Taoiseach and leader of the ruling Fine Gael Party Leo Varadkar recently told reporters:”I will only talk to Fianna Fáil [his traditional main opposition party] if it’s a last resort.”

Well, it seems, Fianna Fáil is now his only resort!

The outcome of the election for the 160-seat Dáil resulted in an unexpected swing to left wing Sinn Féin, who were described last week by Irish police chief Drew Harris as still being directed by senior figures in the IRA.

With Fianna Fáil winning 38 seats, Sinn Féin 37 and Fine Gael 35, the quest to put a coalition together comprising of no less than 80 TDs or MPs, is proving somewhat challenging for the three main parties.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have stated with emphasis they won’t go in to Government with Sinn Fein and even implied in the aftermath of the election they would not go in to coalition with each other!

This is despite the fact that Fianna Fáil have kept Fine Gael in Government since 2016 under a Confidence and Supply Agreement!

Two weeks on and reality has bitten with Micheál Martin of Fianna Fáil and Leo Varadkar facing the scenario that unless they enter in to some sort of deal with the support of the 12 Green Party TDs, the alternative may see Sinn Féin enter Government in a multi-coloured alliance of left-leaning smaller parties backed by like-minded independents.

As Fianna Fail prepare to enter exploratory talks with Fine Gael and the Greens talking to Sinn Féin this week, the feeling is the parties are testing the mood of the public to see what way the acceptable political wind is blowing.

Speaking to RTE TV at the weekend, Fianna Fáil TD Mary Butler said, “there are only three options on the table at the moment, a left-leading minority government, a coalition or another general election.

There must be compromise between parties when talks begin this week but a coalition with Sinn Féin is a red line for Fianna Fáil.”

For Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, this is his last chance to become Taoiseach having unsuccessfully led his party in the 2011, 2016 and 2020 General Elections.

The belief is he will cut a deal with Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar and the Greens.

The romantic political flirting is expected to continue until the end of March at the earliest!

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