New government deal facing uphill task to win Longford councillors backing

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove


Government formation

Longford councillors have given a muted welcome to the programme for government

Hopes a new government could be formed within a matter of days have been dealt a blow by the guarded response it has received from Longford based councillors.

Party members are being asked to cast their vote on the likelihood of a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party coalition after agreement was reached on a programme for government between the three parties on Monday evening.

However, a number of local politicians expressed their reluctance at signing off on any deal when contacted by the Leader earlier today.

Fine Gael's Paul Ross described the deal as "aspirational", saying there was very little of note in the document for the likes of Longford and rural Ireland.

"As a rural politician representing rural people, I don't see enough in it to support rural Ireland," he said.

Cllr Ross said increases to carbon tax and emissions were reminiscent of a Green Party agenda that simply "doesn't work in rural areas".

"At the moment, I am voting against it and I have to be convinced otherwise," he added.

Another Fine Gael councillor who declined to issue a public statement at this stage until reading the entire document in its entirity, said he too was erring on the side of caution in voting against it at this juncture.

Party colleague Cllr Peggy Nolan was more accepting of the proposals contained in the document and said the time had come for stability within the corridors of Leinster House.

"At this point, I will be voting for it," she said.

"And I won't be doing it willy, nilly. This country needs a stable government and full credit must go to the (outgoing) government in managing the current situation.

"What we need now is a coalition of like minded people who will put the country first and look after the exchequer," she said.

For her likely partners in government, there was a muted welcome given to the possible formation of a grand coalition involving the three parties.

"The country needs a stable government and I think Fianna Fáil, along with Fine Gael is a good mix," remarked Fianna Fáil Cllr Mick Cahill.

Group leader Cllr Seamus Butler said he preferred to keep his counsel until a meeting of party councillors was held over the weekend, but said local politicians were free to air their views, stating: "We are not North Korea."

The local businessman said the prospect of an alliance with Fianna Fáil's long term political rivals was something which had, nonetheless, been hastened by the outbreak of Covid-19.

Independent Cllr Mark Casey hit out at the moves to create a new government between the three parties and warned of the likely consequences should such a scenario arise.

"It's just typical and it shows just what these two parties will do to hold onto power," he stormed, as he accused both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of being "addicted" to remaining at the top table of Dáil Eireann.

"There is absolutely no mention of Longford in this document and once again we are left out," he said.

"We were crying for a TD and now we have one we are still left out."