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Coveney: Smaller parties may want to join Fianna Fail-Fine Gael govt

Simon Coveney said the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail framework document ‘is quite different in terms of anything you’ve seen from a government before’.

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Simon Coveney and Eamon O Cuiv (Brian Lawless/NIall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney and Eamon O Cuiv (Brian Lawless/NIall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney and Eamon O Cuiv (Brian Lawless/NIall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said a framework document being drawn up by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail may convince smaller parties to join them in Government.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael meet on Monday for further discussions on government formation, two months on from February’s inconclusive general election result.

They are producing a joint framework document to present to smaller parties and independents to ask them to join them in government.

Mr Coveney, who is chairman of Fine Gael’s negotiating team, said the framework document “is quite different in terms of anything you’ve seen from a government before”.

Speaking to South East FM, he said: “When we produce that framework document, I think it might surprise a few people in terms of how open it is to quite fundamental change in a number of areas.

“I hope perhaps some of the parties might change their mind and might engage and work with us.”

A Fianna Fail TD has said there is “serious disquiet” within the party about entering government with Fine Gael.

Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv said grassroots party members may block any government formation deal with Fine Gael and that a short-term Covid-19 government may be needed.

“The options have been artificially narrowed, to present us with this choice of government only.

“The reality is, there is great doubt that this could be put together,” he told RTE radio.

“The other big issue is what we are being asked or what is being mooted is a four- to five-year arrangement.”

“You would need the approval of the membership of Fianna Fail.

“I cannot tell you what way they will vote.

“All I know is, there is serious disquiet within the party in relation to entering into a four- to five-year arrangement with the Fine Gael Party.”

“We should look at wider options.

“There is a process on at the moment and it needs to be dealt with urgently, we can’t hang around because we might need urgent legislation in the coming weeks and we cannot do it if we cannot legislate.

“We don’t have a Seanad and we can’t have a Seanad because you have to have a new taoiseach elected so this is urgent.”

Once a document is drawn up, the two parties will share the agreed paper with the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats and independents to get their input.

Both parties have ruled out Sinn Fein as a government partner.

Any deal with a smaller party would still have to be passed by the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail party memberships.

PA