Varadkar hopes Greens will enter formal government negotiations

Social Democrats and Labour now seen as unlikely to enter government with FG and FF

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan at Leinster House in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan at Leinster House in Dublin on Thursday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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The leaders of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party may meet next week to discuss government formation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar was responding to the publication earlier this week by the Greens of a list of 17 commitments it is seeking from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as a prerequisite to entering government talks. Mr Varadkar called them “reasonable and relevant questions”.

“And if the Green Party is satisfied with our replies, we hope to follow that up with the meeting at leader level, perhaps early next week. And should things go to plan, I’d hope the Green Party might make the decision to enter formal negotiations with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael so that we can establish coalition government with a majority.”

The Social Democrats and Labour will continue to seek more information and clarifications from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, but are seen as unlikely to enter government.

One of the main demands of the Greens is that the next government accelerate Ireland’s annual carbon reduction target to 7 per cent. This was described as “unachievable” by Independent TD Denis Naughten, who is a former minister for climate action.

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Mr Naughten is a member of the Regional Group of Independent TDs, which is open to entering government.

Between them, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have 72 seats, eight short of a Dáil majority. Fine Gael is insisting that a third party and Independents are needed for a stable government, while Fianna Fáil has said a third party is preferable.

Mr Naughten had also previously said that four groups were needed to form a government, but amended his position and indicated the Regional Group is open to entering government with just Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

Mr Naughten told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke radio programme there is a need to stop “shadow boxing” and to move on to proper negotiations for a programme for government.

“But personally, and from my own experience as minister for climate action, the 7 per cent annual reduction in carbon is unachievable,” he said.

“If we banned every single private car in the country and everyone walked to work every single day, we’d reach that target for 14 months of the next five years.

“If we slaughtered every single animal in this country we would still not achieve the five-year target that the Greens are setting out.”