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Varadkar: Government formation talks will take a few more weeks

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail negotiating teams are meeting to discuss policies for a possible programme for government.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said talks are progressing on forming a new government (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said talks are progressing on forming a new government (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said talks are progressing on forming a new government (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Leo Varadkar has said Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are close to reaching a programme for government and will start approaching smaller parties.

The two negotiating teams are meeting again on Wednesday to discuss policies for a possible programme for government.

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

Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said: “There are discussions under way with Fianna Fail at the moment and we hope that either this week or next week to agree a joint document with them and that would allow us to approach third parties like the Greens, Social Democrats and Labour.

“We are a few weeks away and people are working on it but I also think people understand that the number one priority for all of us at the minute is dealing with Covid-19.

Mr Varadkar said the current caretaker government has no requirement to pass any legislation.

“However that is an issue that could arise in the coming weeks.”

“When the election happened a few months ago, it was my party’s view that we should enter opposition.

“We stepped back and allowed other parties to try and form a government.

“They were not successful and as a result of that we have now stepped in to try and work with other parties to form a government.”

Asked if he thinks he will still be Taoiseach next month, he said: “Obviously that is something that is up for discussion with Fianna Fail but they are a party who have slightly more seats than us and we recognise that.

“I don’t think anyone’s focus is on what jobs they are going to hold in a week’s time or a month’s time.

“My focus is on dealing with this public health emergency and minimising the economic damage and ensuring our society and economy can bounce back.”

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail issued coordinated statements on Wednesday evening.

They said: “Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail met this afternoon, and had a positive meeting and discussion on policy issues.

“They both agreed to keep the dialogue confidential and will be in contact over the next few days.”

PA