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Tackling Covid-19 takes precedence over forming Government, says Varadkar

Leo Varadkar said the Government’s number one focus is not talks about the next Government but making sure the country gets through the pandemic.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said getting through the coronavirus pandemic is taking precedence over Government formation talks.

Progress on forming a government has been slow since the inconclusive result of the general election on February 8.

After saying his preference was to lead Fine Gael into opposition, Mr Varadkar said last week: “I do think it’s possible to form a government in the next few weeks.”

Speaking in Dublin on Monday, he said Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will approach other parties about forming a government once they both agree a common framework.

“Needless to say, our number one focus for those of us in government is not talks about the next government, it is making sure we get through this emergency in as good a shape as possible, in terms of protecting human life and human health and so that jobs, economy and our livelihood can jump back as soon as possible.

“The talks between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are ongoing. Both parties are producing a document and we have to go back to our parties and parliamentary parties with that document and that work is going to happen this week.

“I hope that next week, it might be possible to agree a common framework document where we could sketch out how a government would work.

“It would not be a programme for government, it would be a framework dealing with how a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael government might work.

“When we have that agreed, as we hope to do next week, we would then reach out to a third party because everyone agreed that for a government to last until 2024 or 2025, we will need a third party and independents.

“If we can agree a common framework, we would then reach out to the Green Party, Social Democrats and Labour and see if they are willing to be part of a government to deal with this crisis and also rebuild our country and society when it is over.”

PA