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Talks to form government in Republic of Ireland pushed back to next week

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Government formation talks in Dublin have stalled amid the unprecedented crisis caused by the coronavirus threat.

Senior politicians from Fine Gael and Fianna Fail were due to meet last night but negotiations will now not start until next week.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin discussed the matter over the phone and agreed to reschedule the talks for after the weekend.

It comes after the Green Party threw attempts to form a coalition involving the two Civil War parties into disarray after it called for a halt to all such talks and the creation of a national crisis government.

The most straightforward path to a Dail majority would be a government involving Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Greens, given that both Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin have ruled out a deal with Sinn Fein.

The Green Party's unity government proposal was rejected, but last night Mr Martin said he hoped Eamon Ryan's party would participate in talks next week.

Failing that, independents may be relied on to form a government.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney revealed that planned talks with Fianna Fail were postponed as he and other ministers outlined the serious measures, including the closure of schools, being taken to delay the spread of coronavirus.

He said: "We've postponed those discussions for the moment, but I'm sure we'll take them up again soon."

Mr Martin said of the cancelled talks: "To be fair, ministers have to flesh out and tease out those announcements."

"We're determined to continue with those talks in the coming week.

"It's our view that a lot will flow from this crisis.

"There's the health issue - a lot of big decisions have to be taken. Big economic issues will arise."

"In our view a government is required with a solid majority to be in a position to take those tough and difficult decisions."

Belfast Telegraph