Forming a government


Sir, – For reasons I understand, but do not agree with, neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil are prepared to involve Sinn Féin in arrangements for government. Nor does it seem that Sinn Féin is prepared to compromise on policies when it comes to forming a government for the long term.

All other considerations to one side, we are faced with an ideological impasse between these parties. At a time when we are seeking to build national consensus in the short to medium term at least, it seems to me foolish if not dangerous to alienate not so much Sinn Féin as the substantial cohort of voters it represents. Taken together these parties represent the vast majority of us, and this must be recognised.

It would be equally foolish, and dangerous, to assume that when the present crisis has passed, we will simply return to the politics of what once was the norm. I suspect, indeed, that things will have changed utterly. This process of change is already, however subtly, underway.

Why not, then, have Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil form a government with the assistance of a confidence and supply agreement from Sinn Féin, for a defined, limited, period – focused in the main, if not entirely, on producing policies (and actions) designed for the present moment?

Given the urgency of our situation, it is unlikely, if not impossible, that anyone could or even should develop a long-term programme for government, from which it follows that what is needed now is a working arrangement for the immediate future – one might even hope that cabinet positions could be agreed on the basis of a person’s qualifications for the post.

An arrangement such as the one I propose, focusing on the immediate crisis, would require none of the partners to give up core policy positions – and might indeed help promote better understanding in all parties that TDs are elected to serve not party interest but the common good.

Should such an arrangement prove possible, the smaller parties and the Independents would, of course, be at liberty to ally themselves with the process.

What we need now is a government with the authority, which is to say the consent of the people, to implement such measures as will best provide for the safety and wellbeing of the nation.

This proposed arrangement would allow Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to maintain their virginal distance from Sinn Féin, it would permit SF to demonstrate its willingness to put the country, indeed the island, first, and would ensure that the vast majority of the people could feel they are represented at government.

I can foresee the strategic advantages that would be created for all parties were they to enter into an arrangement such as proposed here, but that is for them to work out.

Strange times demand new thought. I know that the three major parties would find this an uncomfortable, indeed a demanding, arrangement, but their discomfort is of little concern to most of us in the light of this ongoing crisis. There is a far greater good to consider. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 13.

Sir, –Our politicians need to come together in this time of crisis by forming a unity government. There is no time for bickering and squabbling about manifestos, as the fight against coronavirus is the absolute priority. Surely a government of unity would be the most rational and prudent approach to our current crisis and give us the solidarity and stability crucial at this time. Political solidarity will empower citizen cohesion and harmony. We are all in this together. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.