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Second election cannot be ruled out if government deal not passed, says Coveney

The outcome of the membership votes among the three parties will be announced on Friday.

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Reporters direct questions to Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

Reporters direct questions to Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

Reporters direct questions to Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

Nothing can be ruled out, including a second general election this year, if parties do not vote to pass the draft government deal, the Tanaiste has said.

Simon Coveney said, however, that he is a positive person and believes the deal can be approved.

The outcome of the membership votes among the three parties will be announced on Friday.

The Green Party has the highest threshold of the three parties to secure the approval of its membership.

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Caroline Quinn/Damien Eagers/Leon Farrell/PA)

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Caroline Quinn/Damien Eagers/Leon Farrell/PA)

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Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Caroline Quinn/Damien Eagers/Leon Farrell/PA)

Two thirds of members registered to vote on the proposals must back the deal.

However, one of the TDs who negotiated the deal, Neasa Hourigan, has said she will vote no on the deal while a number of Green members have voiced their concern about it.

The leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland, Clare Bailey, has also called for a no vote.

Mr Coveney said he is still hopeful the deal will be passed.

Our focus will be on getting this deal passed and putting in place a government that can work for people when the country needs itSimon Coveney

“I think we will have to have that debate when it happens. I’m a positive person and I believe we can get this done this week and that is what the country wants us to do,” Mr Coveney told RTE Morning Ireland.

Asked if another election could be on the cards if the deal does not pass, he said: “Well I mean we can’t rule out anything. Our focus will be on getting this deal passed and putting in place a government that can work for people when the country needs it.”

He said this is a difficult week for Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party because there is division among members and politicians about the deal.

He said: “In many ways, within Fine Gael there are lots of people who still find it difficult to contemplate going into government with Fianna Fail in particular.

“Politics has changed and if Fine Gael defines itself by its past and its past relationship with Fianna Fail then I believe the electorate will move away from us. We have got to define ourselves by what we want for the future.”

When asked about opposition to the deal, voiced by Ms Hourigan, he said she was part of the negotiating team that signed off on the deal.

He said: “She did not get everything she wanted in the deal… nor did I”.

The results of all three party votes will be announced on Friday and all three must back the deal in order for Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to be elected Taoiseach when the Dail sits this Saturday.

Meanwhile, Climate and Fine Gael Minister Richard Bruton said the support of membership across the parties for the programme for government cannot be taken for granted.

Speaking in Dublin on Monday, Mr Bruton said: “No party is complacent and we’re not taking the membership in our own party for granted no more than we’re seeking to take for granted the members of other parties.

“I believe we have an exciting programme for government and I see the influence of all the parties on it.

“It is for other parties to indicate what they think of the programme and I don’t want to hinder other parties in their decision-making. They are independent and they need the time and space to make that decision, but I’m very satisfied with the content of programme and I think it is the right thing for the country.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein’s Eoin O’Broin said his party leader Mary Lou McDonald is ready to pick up the phone if the programme for government is rejected this Friday.

Mr O’Broin, the party’s housing spokesman, said that Ms McDonald would attempt to form a government if the document is not endorsed.

He added: “We’ve been saying from the very start we do not need another election, but if there is one we will fight it, but I don’t think the public wants another election, they’ve had their say.

“What they want is for parties to get together and come up with a programme that reflects change that the majority voted for.

“People don’t have to accept a bad deal – if you read through the programme for government, there is nothing new on health, there is nothing new on housing or childcare.

“If anyone rejects this deal on Friday, we are ready to form an alternative.”

He said that Ms McDonald will engage with pro-change parties, adding that is “the right thing to do”.

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