29 May 2022

Longford/Westmeath TDs frustrated as government talks still no nearer to reaching successful outcome

Longford/Westmeath TDs frustrated as government talks still no nearer to reaching successful outcome

Longford/Westmeath TDs frustrated as government talks still no nearer to reaching successful outcome

Talks on government formation look no nearer to reaching any kind of breakthrough despite almost five weeks of cross party talks taking place inside the corridors of Leinster House.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was yesterday (Tuesday) expected to fly to the United States ahead of the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations, throwing fresh doubt on any immediate advances in the make-up of Ireland's next government.

The Dáil is also not scheduled to meet until March 19, but for constituency TDs at a local level, the appetite for progress is increasing by each passing day.

Fianna Fáil Longford-Westmeath TD Joe Flaherty intimated ongoing barbs thrown in the direction of Sinn Féin were of futile value when the country was in the midst of a worsening coronavirus emergency.

“We have to respect Sinn Fein's mandate and if they are in a position to form a left wing government then that has to be respected,” he said.

“Above all else, it's important we form a government as quickly as possible especially when we are facing into a crisis in healthcare.”

His party colleague Robert Troy said while a prospective coalition with Sinn Féin had been ruled out at a recent parliamentary party meeting, such a scenario was not entirely beyond the realms of possibility.

“I don't think it's likely at the moment,” he said.

“The party leader has outlined the position of the party and a decision was taken at a parliamentary party meeting not to engage with Sinn Féin and that's why we are talking to Fine Gael and the Greens.

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“But I did indicate that if those talks fail there should be no reason why we shouldn't talk to other parties.”

Those soundings were ones Sinn Féin poll topper Sorca Clarke was only too keen to attest to.

She said her party remained steadfast behind its commitment to deliver a government “for change” but conceded the wider electorate were growing increasingly tired by the length of time governmental talks were taking.

“I don't have any more information but I do know one thing, people are starting to get really annoyed and irritated,” she said.

“It's nearly five weeks now since the electorate were asked to cast their vote and yet still we have no government when we have the coronavirus ripping its way through the continent. People want TDs to form a government.

“Talks are ongoing. We have had preliminary talks with a number of parties and those talks are continuing, but whatever government and programme for government is agreed on, it must allow change.”

Fine Gael's Peter Burke was more guarded about the role his party may or may not play in forming the next government, saying the onus lay very much in the hands of Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil.

“I know on March 19 we will have a second vote for Taoiseach and that will go a long way towards crystallising what progress the left have made and other left leaning parties,” he said.

Read next: ‘Incremental measures can amount to a huge impact’, when preventing the spread of Coronavirus says Longford GP

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