Enda Kenny reiterates call for Fianna Fáil to enter partnership

Micheál Martin says he will meet acting Taoiseach to discuss minority government

Acting Taoiseach Mr Kenny and a number of his senior Ministers have accused Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin of putting party before country following the emphatic rejection of a partnership government by the main Opposition party.

Acting Taoiseach Mr Kenny and a number of his senior Ministers have accused Fianna Fáil and Micheál Martin of putting party before country following the emphatic rejection of a partnership government by the main Opposition party.

 

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to reiterate his call for an end to civil war politics and ask Fianna Fáil to enter a partnership.

In a statement released on Friday night, Mr Kenny said “ending civil war politics is the best thing for our country now.

“The general election result requires a new way of doing politics to provide stable, lasting government working in cooperation with a reformed Oireachtas. Last Wednesday evening I proposed that, in the national interest, we create a full Partnership Government between Fine Gael, Independent TDs and Fianna Fáil.

“It is my hope that those willing to participate or support in a Partnership Government can come together to discuss and agree how such a Government will work. I am prepared to host a meeting early next week involving all Independent TDs involved in recent discussions together with the leader of Fianna Fáil and I intend to write to all Independent TDs and to the Fianna Fáil leader to that effect. I believe that a Partnership Government is in the best interests of our country and deserves full consideration.”

The proposal came at meeting of Fine Gael Ministers who insisted the offer was rejected in haste by the Fianna Fáil party.

However Fianna Fail sources have insisted their decision remains.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, meanwhile, has said he will meet with Mr Kenny and Independent TDs to discuss how a minority government can be formed.

Independent TD Shane Ross said Mr Martin has told him he is willing to meet with Mr Kenny and others to discuss how such an administration could work.

Mr Kenny has already indicated he is willing to attend such a meeting but Fine Gael is still insisting it will not back a Fianna Fáil led minority government.

In a statement, the Independent Alliance said: “The Independent Alliance can confirm that Deputy Martin has accepted our invitation to meet in the next day to attempt to break the impasse on government formation talks.

“He has confirmed that he will happily discuss how a minority government could be formed with both Independent Alliance Deputies and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. We are awaiting a further response from Taoiseach Kenny.”

Three budgets

The Independent Alliance want Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to commit to passing three budgets before the next general election.

In a statement on Friday, the group of TDs, including Finian McGrath and Shane Ross, said they wanted a minority government to be able to pass three budgets.

“We believe that both parties should be able to reach agreement on mutual support for at least three budgets, so as to provide the country with the stability which all parties have acknowledged is necessary. The Independent Alliance is eager to play their part in forming a reforming, yet stable government.”

Mr Kenny has already responded by letter by the Independent Alliance. In it, Mr Kenny said he was willing to give full parity of esteem to Independent TDs and Fianna Fáil in government.

The acting Taoiseach said he regretted that this was rejected by the Fianna Fáil party.

The full letter reads:

Dear Members of the Independent Alliance,

Thank you for your letter.

You are aware of my seriousness in attempting to form a government. In that regard I tabled a formal proposition for a full partnership government to include Independents and Fianna Fail. This government would provide stability and a capacity to introduce 5 budgets over the coming years. I believe that this is in the best interests of our country and by far the best option open to all.

I assure you that my proposal would give full parity of esteem to Independent members and Fianna Fail members in regard to all matters pertaining to government. I believe that all members would have the opportunity to support and the right to participate in such a government.

I am prepared to host such a meeting involving all Independents involved in recent discussions, together with the Leader of Fianna Fail. I intend to write to all Independent members and to the Fianna Fail Leader to that effect. In the interests of transparency I think it is appropriate that I publish this letter which I intend doing this evening.

Thank you again for your letter.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Enda Kenny TD

Taoiseach

Meanwhile, a Fianna Fáil TD said the party would abstain on the next vote for Taoiseach if more Independents declare for Fine Gael in the coming days.

Such a move would effectively elect Mr Kenny as Taoiseach and facilitate a Fine Gael-led minority government.

Dublin West TD Jack Chambers told RTÉ Radio on Friday that the party would act responsibly if Fine Gael gets the support of more Independents.

Mr Chambers, however, also said Fianna Fáil would continue to seek support for a minority government led by Mr Martin. He said Fine Gael should support a Fianna Fáil-led minority government if Mr Martin gets more support than Mr Kenny.

Written agreement

Earlier on Friday, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said a minority government with the support of Fianna Fáil would need a written agreement.

The Fine Gael TD said on Friday the door was still open for talks, but he was disappointed that Fianna Fáil rejected Fine Gael’s offer of a partnership government with such haste.

He wants both sides to meet to discuss possible common policies. “There should be no red lines,”he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“I think the best way we could work together is by going into a partnership agreement – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Independents. The second option, or lesser preferred option, of a minority government with the support of Fianna Fáil from the outside.

“I think at the very least it would have to have a written agreement – on how long it would last, on key policy issues and also support for budgets and confidence votes,” he said.

“In the absence of that I don’t think it would last. More importantly, worse than that, I don’t think it would be a good government, [it] would be always looking over its shoulder.

“A government like that will put off important decisions, will not think long term and will be forced in constant climb downs, often doing the wrong thing, but having to do that just to survive. That would not be a good outcome for the country and certainly not for the party.”

He was speaking after a breakdown in relations between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over the shape of the next government on Thursday.

Mr Kenny and a number of his senior Ministers accused Fianna Fáil and Mr Martin of putting party before country following the emphatic rejection of a partnership government by the main Opposition party.

The two men had a frosty 18-minute meeting on Thursday afternoon during which Mr Martin conveyed Fianna Fáil’s rejection of the partnership offer. He added Fianna Fáil was willing to support a Fine Gael minority government but that he was prepared to lead one if the acting Taoiseach was not able to.

Mr Martin also said minority government had been taken off the table by Mr Kenny at their meeting. He said that was a surprising decision considering the length of time the party had spent meeting Independent TDs.

Political Gamesmanship

Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary said on Friday that it should be no big surprise that the offer was rejected. “Many who voted for us told us there was no way we were to put Fine Gael in government.

“I don’t think this offer was serious. If it was it would have been made a week earlier and he would have told the Independents before hand,” he said.

“He knew we wouldn’t be in a position to accept it. It is political gamesmanship.”

He said proposals to reform the Dáil offers many many chances.

“Whatever government is formed will be formed on the basis that it cannot be like any previous government. It cannot control the Dáil, it does not have to win every vote in the Dáil.

“There will be very disparate make up on many policy issues. Think the disparate make up will dictate the pace of the Dáil, as opposed to the government, no matter the hue.”

Disgrace to democracy

Waterford Independent TD John Halligan has described Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as “a disgrace to democracy” for their failure to “join together for the sake of the country.”

“Bitter enemies in serious conflicts around the world have managed to overcome their differences. It is an appalling affront to democracy to treat the Irish electorate like this” Mr Halligan said on Morning Ireland.

Mr Halligan said he was not prepared to support either Mr Kenny or Mr Martin, for the time being, in a vote for Taoiseach.

He accused Mr Kenny of “grandstanding” and said he should have spoken to Mr Martin before making an announcement. He also said there was an arrogance about Fianna Fáil – “they feel they are on the way up, but they still have only 25 per cent of the vote.”

Meanwhile, Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae said Mr Kenny did not mislead Independents on the Fianna Fáil proposal, saying the acting Taoiseach gave notice that he would contact Mr Martin.

“I wasn’t one bit surprised by the partnership offer. He did say it was a partnership including the Independents,” he said on RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke show.

He said he would like there to have been more consideration of the proposal.

He said: “I respect the Fianna Fáil stance, but I’m disappointed as I don’t want an election.

Disappointed

Independent TDs Maureen O’Sullivan and Mattie McGrath said they are both “very disappointed” at Fianna Fáil’s rejection of Fine Gael’s partnership proposal.

“A minority government is not going to work unless there is some agreement between the parties,” Ms O’Sullivan said on Newstalk Breakfast.

“It is not enough for 15 Independents to support a minority government if the rest of the Dáil is against it.

“The Independents have stepped up to the mark and shown responsibility. It is not fair that it is down to us. Everybody else is allowed to get away with it.”

Mr McGrath called on the two parties to provide “the road map”.

“We want the road map, if we vote for one, either or, that the other will support it. Micheál Martin has said he will support Fine Gael in a minority government, but Fine Gael have refused to say that.”

He said that they had longer talks with Fine Gael and explained: “We’re more on the same page as the others who had anti government campaigns. We were talking to the government that we campaigned against.

“I can’t understand why Sinn Féin, why a deputy in my constituency, campaigned for months and then they go up and refuse to talk to any one.

“It is unfair that the focus back on us.

“There is a new field here, a new crop. I’d like that new crop to sit down and form a national government. We cannot let this go on. We have to be responsible for our actions.”