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Third party needed to form coalition government – Varadkar

Earlier this week the Green Party ruled out any talks with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael during the coronavirus crisis.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his party is still willing to talk to the Greens, Labour and the Social Democrats (Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his party is still willing to talk to the Greens, Labour and the Social Democrats (Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his party is still willing to talk to the Greens, Labour and the Social Democrats (Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that a third party is needed to form a coalition government as Fianna Fail and Fine Gael did not win enough seats at the general election.

Mr Varadkar said his party is still willing to talk to the Greens, Labour and the Social Democrats.

Talks to form a government between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are still under way with the coronavirus crisis adding pressure to the ongoing discussions.

Mr Varadkar said: “I need to be very frank with people, the two parties together didn’t win enough seats in the election to form a government.

“We only have 72. You need a minimum of 80 so we will need a third party and Independents, certainly a third party, but possibly Independents as well to come on board and so far that hasn’t been possible.”

Earlier this week the Green Party ruled out any talks with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael during the coronavirus crisis.

Any decisions that are going to be taken in the next couple of months and years to get the country going again aren't going to be easy. They are not going to be popularLeo Varadkar

Asked about the party’s decision to withdraw from the talks process, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t want to speak for other parties but certainly my party is willing to talk to the Labour Party, the Green Party, Social Democrats, and Independents about participation in government.

“The one thing I am absolutely sure of, that any government that is formed needs to have a functioning and working majority in the Dail.

“Any decisions that are going to be taken in the next couple of months and years to get the country going again aren’t going to be easy.

“They are not going to be popular, we are not going to be offering people incentives or concessions.”

Mr Varadkar also said there was conflicting legal advice on whether or not the Seanad can pass new legislation from next week.

Concerns have been raised that further emergency legislation to tackle the spread of Covid-19 cannot be passed without the formation of an Irish government.

Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail has said that without a fully formed Seanad, the Oireachtas cannot pass new laws.

The election of the Seanad will take place in the coming days, however it cannot be fully formed as 11 of the Senators are nominated by a taoiseach.

If a taoiseach is not elected by the new 33rd Dail, the Seanad is short of its required 60 members.

It could cause major problems with passing further emergency legislation to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Varadkar said any new legislation would be “open to challenge”.

He added: “There are conflicting legal opinions on whether or not the Seanad can legislate without the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees.

“As things stand any legislation we need we believe we have through by the weekend.

“Of course there is the possibility that at some stage over the next few weeks we may find we need additional legislation and at the very least that legislation would be open to challenge if it goes through a Seanad that doesn’t have the 11 Taoiseach nominees.”

PA