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Varadkar does not envisage another general election this year

Two months on from February’s inconclusive general election result, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are meeting to draw up a joint framework document.

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Leo Varadkar voting in the general election (Damien Storan/PA)

Leo Varadkar voting in the general election (Damien Storan/PA)

Leo Varadkar voting in the general election (Damien Storan/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does not think there will be a second general election this year.

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael meet on Monday for further discussions on government formation, two months on from February’s inconclusive general election result.

They are producing a joint framework document to present to smaller parties and independents to ask them to join them in government.

Speaking in Dublin on Monday, Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t envisage there being a second election. I don’t even know how we would conduct an election in the current context.

It is not our view that we should bully any party into governmentLeo Varadkar

“And as you know when the results came in from the election two months ago, my party took the view that we should go into opposition. Even though we lost narrowly, we were defeated. We felt the right thing for us was to go into opposition at that time.

“We gave the other parties two months to form a government, they haven’t done so. For that reason we felt that it is our responsibility to the people and to the nation to be available to serve in government.”

Mr Varadkar said a third party is needed to join Fine Gael and Fianna Fail in Government but they will not “bully” any party into doing so.

“I can’t speak for other parties, but if there is going to be a third pillar in this government, and there’s a lot of ifs there – Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have yet to agree a document. If we can agree a document, for a government to have a functioning majority and to be able to lead the country for the next four to five years then we need a third party, a third pillar as part of that government.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

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(PA Graphics)

“I’m absolutely sure that the Green Party wouldn’t participate in such a government unless there was a very strong climate action and biodiversity agenda as part of that.

“The Social Democrats have focused a lot on making universal healthcare a reality and I’m sure they would want that to be part of any coalition agreement. Labour have a huge interest in areas like health and child care and housing so what we’re saying really to those parties is we need a third pillar in this government.

“We wouldn’t expect for a second that you would enter government unless a big part of your core agenda was a part of that government’s mission as well. What we intend to do if we can come to an agreement between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael is to reach out to those parties to see if they will talk to us. It is not our view that we should bully any party into government.

“This is a democracy and there should not be any forced marriages – only parties that want to serve together and work together and have a mandate.”

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said a framework document being drawn up by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail may convince smaller parties to join them in government.

Mr Coveney, who is chairman of Fine Gael’s negotiating team, said the framework document “is quite different in terms of anything you’ve seen from a government before”.

Speaking to South East FM, he said: “When we produce that framework document, I think it might surprise a few people in terms of how open it is to quite fundamental change in a number of areas.

“I hope perhaps some of the parties might change their mind and might engage and work with us.”

A Fianna Fail TD has said there is “serious disquiet” within the party about entering government with Fine Gael.

Once a document is drawn up, the two parties will share the agreed paper with the Green Party, Labour, the Social Democrats and independents to get their input.

Both parties have ruled out Sinn Fein as a government partner.

Any deal with a smaller party would still have to be passed by the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail party memberships.

PA