FF-FG government would look to avoid return to austerity

‘People have taken too much in the last 10 years,’ parties’ negotiating teams believe

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiating teams hope a joint document can be finalised next week. Photographs: Nick Bradshaw

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiating teams hope a joint document can be finalised next week. Photographs: Nick Bradshaw

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Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiating teams have accepted any coalition between the parties should not be seen to implement austerity to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.“Both parties are of a view that the people have taken too much in the last 10 years,” said one source, who added that people would be “knocked back” by such an approach just a decade after the economic crash.

Another source, speaking after a meeting between the teams yesterday, said challenging decisions would still need to be made, but a new government must avoid the perception that there is a return to austerity, with capital spending seen as particularly important in avoiding that view taking hold.

It was also argued that no party would be able to avoid tough decisions in the aftermath of Covid-19.

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Unemployment increase

Live register figures published today are expected to show a record 300,000 jump in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits as a result of the shutdown. The unprecedented monthly increase is expected to lift the seasonally adjusted total to an all-time high of 482,000, according to a calculation by Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Both sides exchanged papers yesterday on how a coalition would broadly work. It is hoped a joint document can be finalised next week, with smaller parties then approached about joining a government.

The Greens reiterated their position yesterday that they want a national unity government. However, internal debate is continuing and party sources said the Greens would likely examine any document produced by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.