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Leo Varadkar hopes for Green Party meeting next week to start negotiations

He said he hopes the meeting can take place next week as the country ‘needs a government that will lead us through this emergency and aftermath’.

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Leo Varadkar hopes Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can meet the Green Party next week (Brian Lawless/PA)

Leo Varadkar hopes Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can meet the Green Party next week (Brian Lawless/PA)

Leo Varadkar hopes Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can meet the Green Party next week (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he hopes Fine Gael and Fianna Fail can meet the Green Party next week and that they will be able to enter formal negotiations.

The Green Party is seeking 17 commitments from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael before entering any formal negotiations.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has called for more investment in infrastructure for cycling and walking once the coronavirus emergency ends.

Mr Ryan said a pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 7% and addressing the climate and biodiversity crisis was “a red line” for the party.

“In terms of that broad biggest project that we think needs to be taken on, is absolutely a broad red line.”

Should things go to plan, I hope that the Green Party would then make the decision to enter formal negotiations with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael so that we can establish a government with a majorityLeo Varadkar

Speaking at Government Buildings, Mr Varadkar said: “If the Green Party is satisfied with our replies then we hope to follow that up with a meeting at leader level perhaps early next week.

“Should things go to plan, I hope that the Green Party would then make the decision to enter formal negotiations with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael so that we can establish a government with a majority.”

Changing the system as we come out of the crash is what we aim to do.Eamon Ryan

“This country needs a government that will lead us through this emergency and through the aftermath which is going to require a lot of political leadership.”

Speaking to RTE radio, Mr Ryan said the party wants to see 20% of transport infrastructure funding to be spent on cycling and walking.

He said: “That funding will come from a move away from spending so much on new road projects. We should be investing in proper public transport and better infrastructure for walking.”

“We need to use this crisis and use what is happening now with people working from home and working online… we should keep some of that so perhaps we don’t end up with long commutes and people sitting in traffic for hours.

“Changing the system as we come out of the crash is what we aim to do. The Fianna Fail and Fine Gael document mentioned a lot of that. We want specifics on that scale of ambition and how we will do it.”

Meanwhile, independent TD Denis Naughten has hit out at the Green Party’s demands and said it is not practical “to talk about everyone walking to work”.

A coalition government between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and one of the smaller parties may also require the support of a number of independent TDs.

Mr Naughten told RTE radio: “If we slaughtered every single animal in this country, we would still not achieve the five-year target that the Greens are setting out here – that’s the type of scale that they’re talking about and it is not possible to do that in a very short period of time, and we need to look practically at the type of measures and changes that need to take place.

“There has to be a very different economy now, there’s no doubt about that, and there’s huge opportunities for people to work from home and reduce significantly their transport emissions, but it’s not practical to talk about everyone walking to work.”

PA