The prospect of an historic Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green coalition has been described as the “first forensic examination” in helping provincial towns like Longford recover from a post Covid-19 economic downturn.
That was the succinct and unambiguous message delivered by Longford/Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty this week as talk turned towards the likely formation of Ireland's next government.
“There are a lot of positives in it for rural Ireland, for Longford and for small farmers,” he told the Leader.
“I think it's the first forensic examination of the way forward for rural provincial towns like Longford, Ballymahon and Granard.”
The Lanesboro native said the draft government deal was focused on balanced and regional development with the onus now on elected representatives to ensure Longford maximises its intake from the national fiscal pie.
His party running mate and a rumoured frontrunner for a junior minsiterial portfolio Robert Troy said 'the Programme for Government is an ambitious document.
“It is important that a government is formed so that necessary & vital supports for businesses are Rolled our. Because of the necessary actions taken to combat coronavirus - the economy, our SMEs has taken a serious battering and need urgent assistance to ensure protection of jobs and our revenue base to enable government to provide necessary services.”
In contrast Fine Gael TD Peter Burke said the mooted new governmental model was workable if passed by all three parties and their respective memberships.
“For any government to work, it needs to meet two key metrics-one being the need to have at least 80 seats and a majority in the Dáil and that it reflects over 50 per cent of first preference votes,” he said.
“That's what this has and while there will be challenges, we need to try and make it work and to get the country moving forward.”
They were soundings which were roundly dismissed by fellow constituency colleague and Sinn Féin Deputy Sorca Clarke.
The mother of four said the prospect of a Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green Party triumvirate was nothing more than a blatant attempt to “deny change” as voted for in last February's general election.
“The reality is that a government led by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - no matter who they are propped up by - does not represent the change that people voted for and will not deliver for workers and families,” she contended.
“Their record in government together over the past four years shows us exactly what they will do if this Programme for Government is endorsed by the parties involved.
“What we need is a break from the past, not a repeat of it.”