Climate change is the central focus in FG, FF and Greens talks
Parties hold informal discussions ahead of substantive government talks next week
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin wrote to the Social Democrats this week inviting the party to enter government-formation talks. Photograph: Alan Betson
The deputy leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party held informal talks on Friday ahead of substantive negotiations next week on a possible coalition between the three parties.
It was the second time that Simon Coveney, Dara Calleary and Catherine Martin have met since the Green Party agreed to become involved in discussions on government formation with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
They held preliminary talks in Leinster House on Thursday morning before the first full session involving teams from all three parties later that afternoon.
Well-placed sources said that Friday’s meeting involving Mr Coveney, Mr Calleary and Ms Martin was around process and logistics, agreeing the nature and scope of the agenda.
“They are essentially marking out the pitch before the talks begin in earnest next week,” said one source.
Ms Martin was one of three Green Party TDs who voted against entering government-formation talks with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. However, she told The Irish Times last weekend she accepted the democratic outcome of the parliamentary party’s decision, and would lead her five-person negotiating team in good faith.
The other two TDs from the 12-strong Dáil contingent who voted against were Francis Noel Duffy (Dublin South West) and Neasa Hourigan (Dublin Central). Patrick Costello (Dublin South Central) abstained.
Ms Hourigan is also on the party’s negotiating team, along with Ossian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire), Roderic O’Gorman (Dublin West) and Marc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford).
The issue around achieving an average annual 7 per cent reduction in climate change emissions has become a central focus of negotiations. Fianna Fáil has drafted its climate change spokesman Jack Chambers on to its team, and the former head of the Oireachtas committee on climate change, Hildegarde Naughton, is on the Fine Gael team.
Minister for Climate Action Richard Bruton is the chair of the Fine Gael reference group, which will assess whatever proposals emerge to ensure they do not run counter to Fine Gael’s core policy platforms.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also wrote to the Social Democrats this week inviting the party to enter government-formation talks. Both leaders committed to having “ring-fenced” funding for the health sector blueprint Sláintecare, but would not commit to a Social Democrats’ act of campaigning to end the EU’s fiscal rules regime.
A spokeswoman for the Social Democrats said on Friday the party’s six TDs would be taking the weekend to consider its response to the letter.
The Labour Party is also due to receive a letter from Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar. However, the party said on Friday it would not be joining the three-party coalition, which would already have a majority.