Belfast Telegraph

Talks on coalition deal intensify

Talks between Fine Gael and Labour on forming a coalition Government have intensified ahead of a weekend deadline.

As negotiating teams prepared for a briefing from economist Colm McCarthy, top Labour negotiator Pat Rabbitte described the discussions as "workmanlike".

"We're getting to the business end of the agenda now," Mr Rabbitte said.

Mr McCarthy, author of the Bord Snip report, is continuing the economic briefings given by the Department of Finance, the National Treasury Management Agency and Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan.

Both sides claimed the information confirmed the depth of the crisis facing the country, but Fianna Fail's Dara Calleary accused the parties of softening up the electorate before abandoning their "cynical" election promises.

"Time and again throughout the election campaign we pointed out directly to Fine Gael and Labour that the promises they were making were unrealistic, uncosted and simply not feasible," Mr Calleary said.

"Despite this, they continued to make ever more outrageous commitments which they were never going to be in a position to deliver.

"What they are attempting to do now is blame others, claim they didn't know how acute the crisis was, and manage expectations as they prepare to backslide from their Five Point Plan and the range of other commitments."

The negotiating teams have also gone head to head on their respective health and education policies since formal talks began on Tuesday.

Under pressure from Europe, the two sides have set the end of the week as a deadline to secure a stable pact and programme for government. Both sides accept the weekend target for a deal.

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