Recriminations as Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil talks collapse

Enda Kenny accuses Micheál Martin of putting party before country after bitter breakdown

Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has criticised the Taoiseach's 'spinning and manouvering' as they enter discussions on forming a government.

 

Another election in the coming months is now a distinct possibility following a bitter breakdown in relations between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over the shape of the next government.

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny and a number of his senior Ministers accused Fianna Fáil and its leader Micheál Martin of putting party before country following the emphatic rejection of a partnership government by the main Opposition party. “I believe that this decision is a serious mistake and one which was driven by narrow party interests rather than the national interest,” said Mr Kenny.

He expressed regret that Fianna Fáil had refused to serve in a partnership government including Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Independents.

“It is an offer that reflects the way in which people voted in the general election and the respective mandates of both parties and Independents,” said Mr Kenny. He added that Ireland needed a stable and lasting government to meet the many national and international challenges facing the country. His comments came shortly after Mr Martin gave a press briefing in which he questioned the integrity of Mr Kenny’s approach and said his relations with the Fine Gael leader “left a lot to be desired”.

Frosty

The two men had a frosty 18-minute meeting yesterday afternoon during which Mr Martin conveyed Fianna Fáil’s rejection of the partnership offer. Mr Martin said his party had decided not to contradict its core commitment made before the election that it would not go into government with Fine Gael but was “prepared to facilitate the formation of a minority government”.

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.

However, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney insisted that was not the case and claimed Mr Kenny had said his preference was a partnership.

He said: “What he said was a majority government would work and would work more effectively because the numbers would be there to do that.”

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar also accused Fianna Fáil of putting the party ahead of the country.

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party heard numerous calls yesterday for its TDs to abstain on the next Dáil vote for taoiseach next week.

Such a move would effectively elect Mr Kenny as taoiseach and allow him form a minority government. Among those who said the formation of a government should be settled by the next vote were TDs Darragh O’Brien and Jim O’Callaghan.