Ministers and TDs from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have voiced concerns about the proposed coalition deal following parliamentary meetings of both parties.
A majority of Fine Gael TDs spoke in favour of the deal and gave the green light to party leadership to continue with government formation talks. More than 40 members of the party contributed to the remote meeting.
Fine Gael ministers Michael Ring and Michael Creed both raised concerns about the move during a meeting which lasted almost three and a half hours.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney updated party TDs on the joint framework document which was published on Wednesday. Mr Varadkar said the document represented real change and Fine Gael values.
The Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring said that the party lost the election and that this message should be heeded, according to one TD who was present.
The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed also said he had worries about the planned deal but said that the process now had to be followed.
Former Government chief whip Sean Kyne is understood to have said that there seemed to be “something for everyone” in the document and voiced concerns about extra spending at a time when the cost of the impact of coronavirus is rising. He also said there would be a huge bill from local authorities on rates forgone, leading to possible shortages in local funding and public finances.
Carlow Kilkenny TD JP Phelan said the deal could open up a gap to the right of the party and also said a coalition with Fianna Fáil would bring the opposite of stability. A meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party also heard some concern about the promises by the two parties.
The meeting of Fianna Fáil TDs and senators was broadly positive towards the document, with many noting it was aspirational in character but stressing it provided a base to approach smaller parties.
However, a number expressed concerns about how the policy pledges in the document can be squared with the commitments not to increase income taxes or the Universal Social Charge.
Michael McGrath, the party finance spokesman, said other parties should not be presented with a “fait accompli”. He said it will take a number of years to address the deficit brought about by spending to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
He said voters would not tolerate increases in taxation nor would welfare recipients tolerate reductions.
Dublin Bay South TD and party justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan questioned how realistic the commitments made were given the tough economic climate ahead, and said that a future government may have to make tough choices. But he said people should be aware of cuts, if they have to be made.
He also said Fianna Fáil should explain its change of position on entering government with Fine Gael, adding that the Covid-19 crisis would be seen as acceptable to the public at large.
Mr O’Callaghan said that an explanation was needed to ensure that Sinn Féin would repeatedly attack Fianna Fáil.
Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said that the document had “something for everyone” and said the only thing that seemed to be missing was free “WiFi and Netflix” and said it would be supported by every TD in the Dáil.
Galway West TD Eamon Ó’Cuiv again raised the issue of a national unity government but Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has repeatedly ruled that out.
Senator Fiona O’Loughlin told the meeting she was concerned about Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pre-emptively announcing the promises on income tax, as well as the promise not to reduce core welfare rates. She is said by sources to have said it is hard to see how the promises in the document cannot be done without tax increases.