You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Fine Gael to demand rotating Taoiseach role as part of grand coalition deal with Fianna Fáil

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 1 day ago Cormac McQuinn
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 09: Fine Gael Leader Leo Varadkar with his partner Matthew Barrett at the Dublin West count on February 9, 2020 in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland has gone to the polls following Taoiseach Leo Varadkars decision to call a snap election. In the last general election, no party came close to a majority and it took 10 weeks of negotiations to form a government with Varadkars party Fine Gael eventually forming a coalition with Fianna Fail. Sinn Fein and their leader Mary Lou McDonald have made a late surge and could become the largest party according to the latest opinion polls. In order to win an outright majority and govern alone, parties need to win 80 seats - many political experts have predicted another hung parliament. (Photo by Donall Farmer/Getty Images) © 2020 Getty Images DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 09: Fine Gael Leader Leo Varadkar with his partner Matthew Barrett at the Dublin West count on February 9, 2020 in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland has gone to the polls following Taoiseach Leo Varadkars decision to call a snap election. In the last general election, no party came close to a majority and it took 10 weeks of negotiations to form a government with Varadkars party Fine Gael eventually forming a coalition with Fianna Fail. Sinn Fein and their leader Mary Lou McDonald have made a late surge and could become the largest party according to the latest opinion polls. In order to win an outright majority and govern alone, parties need to win 80 seats - many political experts have predicted another hung parliament. (Photo by Donall Farmer/Getty Images)

Fine Gael would demand a rotating Taoiseach role as part of a grand coalition deal with Fianna Fáil.

Senior ministers have said the price for power Micheál Martin would have to pay is sharing the role of Taoiseach with Leo Varadkar. Other key demands include income tax cuts, improved childcare subsidies and the continued roll-out of rural broadband.

As Ireland’s political leaders struggle to find a way to form a government, Sinn Féin conceded it would be impossible for it to form a government without the support of either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

Both have ruled out a deal with Mary Lou McDonald’s party. Last night, she said it was “disgraceful that the old boys’ club of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael believe they can set aside the democratic mandate of Sinn Féin”.

Related: For all the election 2020 news, reaction and analysis, click HERE

Mr Martin opened the door to the possibility of a grand coalition with Fine Gael when he got the approval of his party to talk to everyone bar Sinn Féin. While there is opposition within Fianna Fáil to striking a deal with Fine Gael, there is growing momentum towards such a coalition – with the Greens a likely third wheel.

Fine Gael ministers told the Irish Independent the bare minimum for such an arrangement would be a rotating Taoiseach role as had been offered to Mr Martin by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2016.

Fine Gael leader, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during the seven way RTE leaders debate at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) campus in Galway, Ireland on January 27, 2020. - The 2020 Irish general election, which was called after the dissolution of the 32nd Dáil by the President, at the request of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, is to be held on February 8, 2020. (Photo by Niall Carson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NIALL CARSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) Fine Gael leader, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks during the seven way RTE leaders debate at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) campus in Galway, Ireland on January 27, 2020. - The 2020 Irish general election, which was called after the dissolution of the 32nd Dáil by the President, at the request of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, is to be held on February 8, 2020. (Photo by Niall Carson / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NIALL CARSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

"I don't see how else it's going to work," one minister said, adding there was a "stark choice" between another election and a coalition involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Another senior minister said: "Any coalition would have to be a coalition of equal partners."

A third ministerial source said Mr Kenny made his offer when there was a larger gap between the parties and asked: "How could Fianna Fáil think they would be left with the Taoiseach for five years?"

Fianna Fáil has 38 seats while Fine Gael is on 35.

General election 2020: All the Taoisigh in Irish history (Photo Services)

Mr Martin has indicated he will speak to Mr Varadkar next week, but Fine Gael sources are warning they will have a shopping list waiting for the Fianna Fáil leader. Demands will include Fine Gael's promised income tax cuts, with one source saying: "The squeezed middle need a break."

Another said childcare was a "massive issue" on the doors during the election campaign and increased subsidies would have to be included in any programme for government.

The continued roll-out of the controversial National Broadband Plan (NBP), which Fianna Fáil has criticised due to its cost, and other rural development initiatives would have to be included under any deal, according to another minister.

A Green Party source last night said "the three big parties need to sort themselves out" before anyone else could get involved in talks. They said a "viable government" needed two of the three main parties to come together.

Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary told RTÉ his party won't be rushing into any government deal. Mr Martin will face resistance from within his own party if he does end up in coalition talks with Fine Gael.

Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív argued a deal between the parties would be "thwarting the wishes of the electorate".

He said he accepted that Fianna Fáil won't be doing a deal with Sinn Féin, but added he was "totally opposed" to a coalition with Fine Gael because he doesn't agree with its "conservative policies".

Mr Martin spoke to Ms McDonald on the phone last night. Afterwards she said that she told him her party's voters were angry Fianna Fáil was "denying them the respect of sitting down with the party that represents them".

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson said Mr Martin congratulated Ms McDonald on Sinn Féin's election success, but reiterated the reasons why Fianna Fáil was not going into coalition with her party.

A statement added: "Fianna Fáil has a mandate and it is our prerogative and duty to try to form a government.

"No one grouping in the Dáil can force another grouping to form a government when there are such incompatible views on economic policy and other issues."

Last night a spokesperson for the Taoiseach said: "The Fine Gael Parliamentary Party is meeting on Monday and everyone will have an opportunity then to give their view.

"In the meantime the Taoiseach has made it clear that we won't be negotiating through the media or over the airwaves."

MORE ON THE ELECTION:

'Leo and Micheal's bromance is not dead yet' (Irish Mirror)

Deadline announced to take down election posters (Journal.ie)

Opinion: Is love in the air for Ireland's politicians? (BBC News)

Opinion: A United Ireland? Sinn Fein’s win brings it only one step closer (Bloomberg)

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Independent.ie

Independent.ie
Independent.ie
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon