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Fine Gael and Fianna Fail ‘exchanged policy views’ but still no deal to govern

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe said Fine Gael’s preferred position remains going into opposition.

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Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe said views were exchanged on policy in a meeting between his party and Fianna Fail, but insisted their preferred position would be going into opposition (Niall Carson/PA)

Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe said views were exchanged on policy in a meeting between his party and Fianna Fail, but insisted their preferred position would be going into opposition (Niall Carson/PA)

Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe said views were exchanged on policy in a meeting between his party and Fianna Fail, but insisted their preferred position would be going into opposition (Niall Carson/PA)

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have “exchanged views” on policy matters.

The latest meeting between the two political powerhouses came as agreement between any of the parties to form a new Irish government following last month’s general election remains elusive.

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe restated that Fine Gael’s preferred position remains to be in opposition.

“We had a discussion with Fianna Fail today in which we exchanged views on policy matters,” he said.

“But in the meeting of the Dail tomorrow, and in the future meetings of the Dail that would then take place, I think it’s imperative on those who have claimed they can bring about change in a way we have not be able to, in their view, to look to form a government.”

Such efforts on all sides after the inconclusive election result have yet to build up any real momentum.

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

Fianna Fail, which like Sinn Fein currently has 37 parliamentary seats, is also trying to form an administration.

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.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall, who held talks with Sinn Fein on Tuesday morning, said talks to form a government could extend until Easter.

The Social Democrats last month cancelled a scheduled meeting with Fine Gael, accusing Mr Varadkar’s party of “game-playing”.

On Wednesday evening, Mr Donohoe was asked about the purpose of the policy exchanges if Fine Gael’s preferred position remains as being in opposition.

He responded: “There’s a lot of different reasons as to why these policy exchanges are valuable.

“The first is there are very many different governments possible within this Dail that would still rely on political parties and individuals to work together, regardless of whether they are in government or in opposition.

I do believe it is incumbent on those who have been elected to the Dail to look to see what role they can play in forming a governmentPaschal Donohoe, Fine Gael

“Having an opportunity to hear the ideas and policies from political parties in relation to important matters is, I believe, beneficial of itself.”

Mr Donohoe refused to say whether he would prefer his party to face another general election or go into government.

“My view is that there are many governments possible within this particular Dail that avoid the need for a general election,” he said.

“I do believe it is incumbent on those who have been elected to the Dail to look to see what role they can play in forming a government.

“Given the urgency of the claims that many have been made regarding the ease of which change can be brought about in our society and in our economy, I do think they have the duty to explain how they might be able to bring about that through the formation of a new government.”

He added: “Discussions in which you have the opportunity to hear what other politicians think of really important matters are always fruitful.

“But the important thing is for our parliamentary party to be briefed on those discussions and that will happen tomorrow, and then the Taoiseach, with the support of the parliamentary party, will then form a view as to what he believes is necessary.”

PA