Ireland’s Rival Political Parties Enter Talks on Government Formation
The leaders of Ireland’s two main rival political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, have confirmed that they are to enter talks on the formation of a Government.
The general election that took place in the country on February 8th resulted in no single party winning enough seats to form a majority Government. Both centrist parties lost a significant number of seats as left-wing party Sinn Fein soared in popularity.
Prior to the election both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail said they would not enter into Government with Sinn Fein. The party is active in both Ireland and Northern Ireland and has historical associations with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, commonly known as the IRA.
Immediately following the election Sinn Fein entered into talks with other left-wing parties to discuss potential for formation of a left-wing coalition government however the talks did not result in a consensus.
In recent weeks Fine Gael leader and acting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has declared the intention of his party to go into opposition. However, following two days of talks with Fianna Fail, and in light of the Coronavirus spread, this position now appears to have changed.
Both parties issued statements on Tuesday evening outlining their intentions to move forward with talks.
The statement from Fine Gael said that the parties had held ‘constructive discussions over the last two days about a series of policy issues and the current political situation.’
It said both parties have now decided to move forward with ‘in-depth detailed talks.’ Both parties have made it clear that they will be entering into the talks as ‘equal partners.’
Ireland’s Green Party is to be included in the talks.
The statement also referenced the challenges facing the country in light of the spread of the Coronavirus.
It said, ‘Both parties will also continue discussions with the Green Party. Both Leaders are acutely aware of the enormous challenges facing the country particularly with the onset of Covid19.’
Ireland currently has 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19. While the country remains in a containment phase, the announcement was made on Monday to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin on March 17th, along with all other parades around the country.
The St. Patrick’s Day festivities represent a massive annual boost to the Irish economy, particularly the hospitality sector.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Fianna Fail Member of Parliament (TD), Michael McGrath said the people of Ireland would never forgive politicians if they failed to form a Government in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Deputy McGrath said the spread of the virus had changed everything and it is incumbent on politicians to move forward with Government formation.
He said, ‘Whether you agree or disagree, it is very clear that the scale and the significance of what we’re facing is enormous and we need a government with authority, with a mandate. We need a functioning parliament whereby legislation can be introduced debated and enacted. And that requires having a government in place.’
(Image by Sean MacEntee via creativecommons.org)