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Virus response key to talks on formation of coalition in Dublin

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Statement: Eamon Ryan

Statement: Eamon Ryan

Statement: Eamon Ryan

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are set for three days of government formation talks this week as the parties move towards forming a grand coalition in Dublin.

The main focus of the initial stages of the talks will be on measures to address the outbreak of the coronavirus.

However, there will also be discussions between the negotiating teams on other areas of policy.

Central to the talks will be discussions around supports for those worst affected by the unprecedented outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

Fianna Fail sources said the parties would have to look at measures which will protect a range of groups including employers, employees, homeowners and renters.

Both parties accept the majority of their election manifesto proposals are no longer achievable and the vast amount of available government resources will now be spent on dealing with the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael's plans to secure the support of the Green Party for their coalition suffered a major blow yesterday when leader Eamon Ryan insisted a national government was still the best option for the country.

In a statement published after a parliamentary party meeting, the Green Party leader said tackling the virus required an "all of government approach".

A Green Party source said there were different views on the decision to hold the line on seeking a national government. However, the source said there was broad consensus on the final decision after a lengthy debate among party members.

Fine Gael's parliamentary party was due to meet this week to discuss entering into official programme-for-government talks with Fianna Fail.

However, the meeting is not expect to take place ahead of the talks between the two parties.

Last week Leo Varadkar wrote to party members to say he was appointing a team to negotiate with Fianna Fail.

A scheduled vote for Taoiseach due to take place on Thursday has been cancelled.

But the Dail will reconvene to vote on emergency measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Parties and political groups have agreed to send reduced numbers to attend the sitting.

Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and Fine Gael will each send 11 TDs to the sitting while the Green Party will send four.

The smaller parties and groupings will send one or two representatives depending on their numbers.

Belfast Telegraph