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Government formation talks resume following row over election planning

100 days on from the general election, government formation talks between three parties resumed on Monday


Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a media briefing (Photocall Ireland)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a media briefing (Photocall Ireland)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a media briefing (Photocall Ireland)

Government formation talks resumed on Monday following a row between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael over election planning.

On Sunday, some Fianna Fail TDs criticised the caretaker Fine Gael-led administration after it emerged officials were making contingency plans for another election if the current negotiations to form a new government fail.

Fine Gael responded on Sunday, insisting the officials were only “doing their jobs” because the constitution stipulates that elections must take place within set timeframes.

Fine Gael defended its contingency planning and accused the Fianna Fail TDs of “damaging” government formation talks.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael met the Green Party on Monday to resume talks, 100 days on since February’s inconclusive general election result.

In a joint statement, the parties said the leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to successfully concluding the talks and to negotiating in good faith”.

They reaffirmed that the talks will remain confidential and a running commentary will not be provided to the media from any of the parties on matters being discussed in the talks.

All parties are working to conclude a draft Programme for Government by the end of the month and for its consideration by each party in accordance with their respective arrangements thereafter,” read the statement.

On Friday, Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar voiced hope that the process could be completed by the end of the month or early June.

Sinn Fein’s housing spokesman Eoin O’Broin said he would have no issue with housing officials making contingency plans for another election.

But Mr O’Broin questioned whether an election could be held over the summer.

“The Government of the day has to plan for all contingencies, so if they didn’t do it somebody would be criticising them just as much as they are criticising them for doing it,” he said.

“The crucial thing is, if anyone is seriously suggesting that we are going to have an election over the summer, I don’t think there is anybody on the NHPET (National Public Health and Emergency Team) team or HSE team would be suggesting that meets the criteria of the exit strategy.

“But also, we don’t need an election. What we need is all political parties talking to each other.

“I have no issue with the Department of Housing officials doing their job, I would say there are some people who lost the run of themselves yesterday and regret that now.”