Obama discusses #ge16 ‘volatility’ with Kenny at Oval Office

Each Fianna Fáil member has responsibility to form stable government, says Taoiseach

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said every member of Fianna Fáil has a responsibility and a duty to form a stable government.

In a strong indication of his willingness to do business with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Mr Kenny said he wanted to work with all like-minded parties and individuals.

Speaking in Washington after a meeting with US president Barack Obama, Mr Kenny said he had not yet spoken to Fianna Fáil but had invited all parties publicly "to work with us to put together a lasting, working government for the people".

“Fianna Fáil as one party has responsibilities, as do each of their Deputies, to work in the regard. But I make the point as the largest party, with the largest vote in the Dáil, we [Fine Gael] have got a mandate and responsibility to work towards putting that government together.”


Mr Kenny said his responsibility as acting Taoiseach was to put together a “lasting and stable government”.

Asked whether that government included Fianna Fáil, Mr Kenny replied: “The Fianna Fáil party has a responsibility as well as every single elected member of the Dáil in putting that together.

“I hear different stories from Fianna Fáil...I have invited them already to work with us in the sense of putting together a government that will last and do its duty in respect of the people.”

Policy priorities

Mr Kenny said his and Fine Gael’s immediate focus was to meet with Independents, small parties and alliances. He said the party is to prepare a list of policy priorities that would form part of any programme for government.

“Some of that comes from our own programme, some of it comes from the parties and the alliances we have been talking to and some of it clearly comes from the concerns raised by people on the course of the election, like housing and homelessness, health issues and so on,” he said.

“We expect to have that finalised next week. That will give us the basis for negotiations and discussions about putting a government together.”

Mr Kenny said the party had learned lessons from the recent election, but its goal was now to look to the future.

Speaking earlier in the day at a breakfast hosted by the US vice-president Joe Biden, Mr Kenny criticised politicians who walk away from the responsibility of governing.

“Right across Europe you have situations arising from elections where anti-austerity and populism tend to run from responsibility, not to have the courage to be decisive and make decisions in the interest of countries and of people, and Ireland has not been unaffected by that,” he said.

“My belief is that in our country over the next short period ahead we will be able to put together a stable government that will last the time, and do the business in the interest of the country.”

Mr Biden and Mr Obama both referenced the recent results of the general election. Mr Obama said the election had proved there is a lot of volatility in the electoral process.

‘Hell of a job’

Mr Biden said Mr Kenny had done “a hell of a job” and was “still the most popular leader” in Ireland.

“I think that the thing I like about the Taoiseach, he, like all of us in politics, he did a hell of a job, he is still the most popular guy in the state in his country, and he lost. He lost seats in the last election. But when I said something to him about it earlier, he looked and said ‘It is going to work out. It is going to work out. It is going to work out.’

“And so the values of hard work, family, pride, faith is something we owe Ireland. I can assure you, if you ran in America, you would get 80 per cent.”

The Taoiseach discussed the referendum on Britain’s future in the EU, the situation in Northern Ireland and the recent Irish election with Mr Obama during a 30-minute meeting at the Oval Office.

Mr Kenny was flying home on Tuesday night to be available for discussions on the formation of a government.