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Coveney: Draft coalition government deal ‘is good for the country’

Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party are on the cusp of forming a new coalition government after more than four months of deadlock.

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Media direct questions to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, upon his arrival at Government Buildings to discuss outstanding issues, as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

Media direct questions to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, upon his arrival at Government Buildings to discuss outstanding issues, as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

Media direct questions to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, upon his arrival at Government Buildings to discuss outstanding issues, as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said the draft coalition government deal expected to be signed off on Sunday is “good for the country”.

The leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

The trio were meeting at Government Buildings on Sunday to discuss outstanding issues.

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Media direct questions to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, upon his arrival at Government Buildings to discuss outstanding issues, as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

Media direct questions to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, upon his arrival at Government Buildings to discuss outstanding issues, as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

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Media direct questions to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, upon his arrival at Government Buildings to discuss outstanding issues, as leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party are set to formally agree a draft programme for government between their parties later.

Speaking on the way into the talks, Mr Coveney, leader of the Fine Gael negotiating team, hailed the contents of the text as “good for the country”.

“We did a lot of good work last night and we effectively have a text for a government with a need for the leaders to finalise a very small number of issues,” he said.

“Negotiating teams have done their job. I think the text that will be going to the leaders today is good for the country and I hope and I am confident that the three leaders will be able to sell it within their parties and to the public.”

Negotiators from the parties met until the early hours of the morning.

Green Party TD Ossian Smyth, who is part of his party’s negotiating team, tweeted at 4.30am on Sunday: “The three negotiating teams agreed most of a programme for government this morning. A small number of issues have been left to the party leaders to decide later today. A lot of good stuff in there!”

Health Minister and Fine Gael TD Simon Harris said the public are eager for a government to be in place soon and he is hoping for a breakthrough.

“We’re very hopeful that, when the party leaders meet this afternoon, they will be in position to finalise an agreement. I understand there is some serious talking being done by the three leaders.

“I think there is a clear expectation that this agreement can be brought to finality. It has been a long few, intense weeks of negotiations – 127 days since the general election,” he told RTE’s Week In Politics Programme.

“I think it is reaching a point where we need to get on with it and the public need a government.”

“When Leo Varadkar meets with Micheal Martin and Eamon Ryan this afternoon, I hope this agreement can be brought to a finality.

“Hopefully today we see a final breakthrough. We then need to consult with our parliamentary party and our membership across the country through our electoral college system.”

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he thinks a government could be in place by the end of June or early July (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he thinks a government could be in place by the end of June or early July (Photocall Ireland/PA)

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he thinks a government could be in place by the end of June or early July (Photocall Ireland/PA)

The programme for government could run to more than 100 pages and the details will be worked out by party leaders on Sunday.

It will then have to be put to the membership of each of the three parties for consideration.

Taoiseach Mr Varadkar said on Friday that he thinks a government could be in place by the end of June or early July if members accept the deal.

Finance Minister and Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe said a number of important issues remained to be resolved.

He said: “We’re here today to try and get agreement in relation to some really important matters that affect the future of our country.

“My own party have put in a huge effort looking at issues that are important to our country but also that matter to our party.

“There is a number of really important matters that still have to be resolved and I hope and expect that a huge amount of effort will go into that today, and that will make it much clearer when we take the next steps in this process.”

Issues remaining include those around the pension age, Occupied Territories Bill, pensions, a ban on fracked gas imports, income tax cuts and carbon tax proposals.

A Green Party source said a ban on fracked gas imports would likely see deputy leader Catherine Martin backing the deal, which could help to persuade two-thirds of its party members to approve the agreement.

The Green Party has the highest bar as their rules state two-thirds of their 2,700 members must support the deal.

PA