The next government will be pre-occupied with getting the country’s economy back on track as it deals with the fallout of Covid-19, the Finance Minister has said.
Paschal Donohoe said Ireland is entering a severe recession and facing increased unemployment.
He added that his Fine Gael leader, Leo Varadkar, and head of Fianna Fail Micheal Martin are set to hold individual meetings with other party leaders this week in an effort to convince a third party into a coalition with them.
Mr Donohoe said no matter who becomes the third party to prop up the coalition, tackling the Covid-19 pandemic will take precedence.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a severe recession both domestically and globally, he said.
“In the space of 12 weeks our jobs market has gone from almost full employment to a scale of unprecedented unemployment that has risen with a speed and scale that is unprecedented.”
Mr Donohoe said the Department of Finance fiscal projections suggest Ireland will run a deficit of 23 billion euro this year and GDP will fall by 10.5%.
“The early phase of any new government will be concerned with the economy and getting people back to work.”
“We will not be able to do everything, choices will have to be made regarding economic recovery, reducing deficit and meeting expenditure needs. Changes we have made in our health service will be retained, we need to maintain public confidence in health services.”
He said Ireland is in a position of strength as it seeks to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus emergency.
“We will rebuild our economy again. As with the recovery of our public health, it will require focus.”