Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore meet for coalition talks
The Irish Labour party last night gave its leader Eamon Gilmore the green light to enter coalition talks with Fine Gael.
But senior figures warned him the party would still be prepared to go into opposition if the deal with them was not good enough.
Fine Gael sources still insisted economic policy would be the key area to be thrashed out.
Mr Gilmore met Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny for 80 minutes yesterday to begin talks as counting in three constituencies continued.
Twelve seats remain to be filled in Wicklow, Laois-Offaly and Galway West.
Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore will meet again this morning at 9am before handing over to their team of negotiators to hammer out the shape of the new government.
Mr Kenny finally got in contact with Mr Gilmore after a false start on Sunday night.
In an inauspicious beginning, the Fine Gael leader left a message on the Labour leader's old mobile phone number.
After meeting with Mr Kenny in Leinster House, Mr Gilmore then attended a meeting of Labour's executive body in the Radisson Hotel in Dublin city centre, beside the party's election campaign headquarters.
Under party rules, Labour's central council has to ratify coalition talks.
Once the deal is completed, it will have to be approved by a meeting of the Labour membership. This convention is pencilled in for next Sunday in Dublin, ahead of the Dail sitting next Wednesday.
The 90-minute central council meeting was described by party officials as more procedural than setting down parameters for the coalition talks.
The meeting of 60 members of the party hierarchy gave him a free hand to enter negotiations with Fine Gael.
But senior party sources said there was “no rush” to enter into coalition with Fine Gael.