Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Cowen rules out national government

Taoiseach Brian Cowen will not seek to form a cross-party coalition

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has ruled out forming a cross-party government as the Green Party pleaded for Opposition support on four years of swingeing cuts.

Environment Minister John Gormley has appealed for consensus on 4 billion euro budget savings for next year and claimed the Taoiseach supported his call.

Mr Cowen has said he would welcome ideas from the Opposition but rejected suggestions of a ruling cross-party coalition.

"As regards this question of a national Government, I don't see it relevant to our present situation," Mr Cowen said. "We have a job to do in the coming weeks, we need to get on with that job and the last thing we need to be doing is, in my opinion, creating any further degree of political uncertainty about that.

"We have a process in place, let's get on with doing work, and if we can work together on it so be it. Let's see if that's possible."

The Taoiseach and Mr Gormley discussed the Green leader's plans for an all-party forum and his plans to write to Opposition leaders to ask them to join negotiations.

The proposed talks would centre on the four-year budget strategy, to be published in November, mapping out a plan to reduce the country's deficit to just 3% by 2014.

Mr Gormley said the Taoiseach supported the idea.

"I think it's absolutely essential that we put party political differences aside and that we can try and reach that form of consensus," the minister told RTE Radio. "I think he (the Taoiseach) understands the necessity for some form of consensus."

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has insisted his party is always willing to enter negotiations on any subject in the national interest. But he warned: "All of this talk about national consensus and national government and so on, really what that's about is keeping Fianna Fail in government."

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