Varadkar and Martin expected to sign off on framework document for coalition

Document said to be light on specific policies and is ‘designed to be inviting’ for other parties

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 72 Dáil seats, eight short of a majority

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 72 Dáil seats, eight short of a majority

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Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin are expected to sign off on a framework document on Tuesday on how a coalition government between their two parties would work.

The document is expected to include commitments that there will be no increases in income tax over the lifetime of the next government, speeding up the implementation of the Sláintecare plan, trialling a State childcare scheme and ramping up the delivery of social and affordable housing, among other issues.

It is understood that both Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar will discuss on Tuesday how to approach other parties and groups with the document. Between them the two parties have 72 Dáil seats, eight short of a majority, and both have said they want a third, smaller party and some Independents in a coalition government.

The framework document is said to be light on specific policy measures but it is rather intended to be “designed to be inviting” for other parties such as the Social Democrats, the Greens and Labour.

Thus far the Social Democrats have said their policies would be incompatible with a Fine Gael-Flanna Fáil government. Labour has said it wants to go into opposition, and the Greens are calling for a national unity government.

Social contract

The framework document is built around a number of “missions”, and seeks to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, rebuild the economy in its wake and tackle issues that featured in the general election such as health and housing. It will also seek to build a new “social contract”.

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Other measures included in the document to appeal to those parties include the prospect of a national living wage, although an exact level is not defined.

It also mentions reducing the State’s carbon emissions, but a precise target is not mentioned.

Other measures in the document are said to include a commitment to build upon the extra resources allocated to the health sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

Well-placed sources said the document envisages using economic growth to tackle a deficit caused by extra spending to deal with Covid-19 rather than austerity measures seen during the financial crash.

Continuing support of the European Central Bank was cited by sources in helping Ireland through the post-crisis period, although it is not clear if this is included in the document

Among the proposals said to be included are grants for businesses hit by the pandemic.

Housing policy is understood to have seen a significant change in emphasis, compared to the previous Fine Gael/Independent minority government approach.

Affordable housing

The Land Development Agency will be give a greater role to deliver social and affordable housing, as well as affordable rental houses.

The pledge not to increase income taxes was said to be key for Fine Gael, but does not rule out other tax changes, such as the removal of some tax incentives.

Minister for Health Simon Harris on Monday said a majority government was needed to deal with the “massive challenges” ahead. “We need other political parties to join us.”