The Irish Green Party's proposal to form a temporary crisis government in Dublin to tackle the coronavirus emergency has been shot down by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.
It comes after Eamon Ryan's party threw a spanner in Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin's plan to enter talks on forming a Dail majority.
The Green Party's 12 TDs met yesterday and called for such talks to be suspended in favour of "forming a crisis national government" to be reviewed after three months.
The decision by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to enter talks was seen as a significant breakthrough. But hopes of a swift end to the political stalemate brought about by February's election result were rocked by the outcome of the meeting of the Green Party's TDs.
Senior figures in both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled out such a move, arguing it would not allow for a coherent response to the crisis. Enlisting the Greens' Dail strength would be the most straightforward route to the two Civil War parties forming a government.
A Fine Gael spokesperson last night said they intend to continue discussions with the Green Party, but poured cold water on the idea of a national government.
He said: "Decisions and choices may need to be made in the coming months that require a government with a working majority in the Dail and Seanad, and which is able to function effectively."
A Fianna Fail spokesperson went further, arguing that "a national government is a way of making government less effective, not more".
"It sidelines parliament and turns government into the place where battles are fought, not where decisions are taken."
He said: "A government with a majority that prioritises the country as it goes through what is now a global pandemic is what the country needs.
"This is too serious for party politics as usual."
He added that a majority government would also target and prioritise issues including housing, health and climate change.
Green Party sources insisted they are serious about the proposal and it must be explored and exhausted as an option as the party needs a two-thirds majority of its members to approve entering government.
Separately, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald gave a lukewarm response to the Greens' proposal. She said her party would "consider every proposition" but whatever type of government is formed will require talks.