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Fianna Fail open to Fine Gael coalition after ruling out Sinn Fein government

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Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has ruled out the possibility of a left-wing government in the Republic of Ireland led by Sinn Fein.

Mr Martin told RTE Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke that he was willing to form a coalition with Fine Gael depending on policy agreements and left the door open to a rotating Taoiseach arrangement.

Asked if he would form a historic coalition between the Republic's traditional big two parties, Mr Martin replied ""yes, depending on a programme of government that works and represents a new direction in terms of housing health and climate change".

"Yesterday there was a six-hour block with Fine Gael. Now they'll be at pain to tell you that these were not negotiations.

"Our representatives at the talks are of a view that they were serious discussions. We didn't hear anything back that would be insurmountable in terms of policy.

"The most important sense of the meeting was a realisation that there had to be a radically different approach in terms of how the government gets delivered."

The Fianna Fail leader said the numbers did not exist to form a Sinn Fein-led government.

"It's decision time, we would argue. I think it's time for all political parties to move beyond the exploratory phase of discussions and say let's negotiate a programme for government that can make a difference t o people's lives," he said.

"We have a very inconclusive result here and it's very fragmented. There is no pathway to opposition in that sense and the left wing alliance isn't going to materialise in terms of critical mass of numbers.

"In my view, people can continue going on saying others have to form a government but the realpolitik has to break through at some stage."

Since the election on February 8, the parties have been unable to form a new government.

Mr Martin said the Irish public "would not forgive them if there was a second election".

"I'm not scared of another election ... we're not fazed by that," he said.

"However, I have always been of the view that there is an obligation on politicians to work to form a government."

He added that when there were a number of successive general elections in the 1980s "it was not conducive to good government".

The Dail will meet on Thursday for the second time since the general election.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael held parliamentary party meetings before the Dail met at 2pm.

Sinn Fein is attempting to form a left-leaning government with like-minded parties and independent TDs, but will struggle to reach the 80 seats required for a majority.

Fianna Fail, like Sinn Fein currently has 37 parliamentary seats while Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar has repeatedly insisted his party, which has 35 seats, is planning to enter opposition.

The Green Party, which has 12 seats, has held talks with both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail over the potential of entering government as a junior coalition partner.

Belfast Telegraph