Ireland election breakthrough: Irish parties prepare to sign coalition deal today

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IRISH political parties, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Greens will sign a deal on the formation of a new coalition government today, it has been reported.

This is according to Michael Martin, leader of Fianna Fail, who is looking to end four months of political deadlock. The talks will resume on Monday morning to resolve the final issues, negotiators for the three parties told reporters. Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party said it was just dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in the proposed policy programme.

“We’ve had good progress made, so we’re going to sign off tomorrow on it,” Martin said. “We’re nearly there.”

It’s been widely perceived that Martin, whose party won 37 seats in the 160-seat parliament, is likely to take over from Leo Varadkar as Prime Minister.

Mr Varadakar’s party, Fine Gael, managed to win 35 seats which despite only being two seats off Martin’s party, wasn’t enough to secure power.

However, Mr Martin will only take over as Prime Minister if the deal is ratified by grassroots members of each party.

Martin and Varadkar are then expected to rotate the role during the government’s five-year term.

In terms of the contents of the policy programme being discussed, it includes plans for a July stimulus package for sectors most impacted by the coronavirus.

According to Reuters, this package will look at benefiting the hospitality and the arts, and later in October, it’s believed A more comprehensive national recovery plan will follow.

When it comes to the case of an Irish Unity Referendum, plans for any such vote would be halted.

This would come as parties will also set up a unit in the prime minister’s office to oversee all-island co-operation with British-run Northern Ireland.

According to the source, it would stop Fianna Fail’s election plan on how to approach the idea of a referendum.

Historic rivals Fianna Fail and Fine Gael need the Greens’ 12 seats to command a majority in the fractured parliament.

It is fractured in the sense that they cannot pass any new laws, including those needed to uphold a 6.5 billion euro ($7.3 billion) package of support measures.

Any agreement would have to be ratified by rank and file members from each party, with the smaller Greens requiring two-thirds support.

This is a higher bar than the larger parties and which could yet scupper the deal.

The inconclusive February 8 election pushed centre-right Fine Gael and Fianna Fail together for the first time.

The once-dominant parties have swapped power throughout the nation’s history since emerging from opposing sides of Ireland’s 1920s civil war.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, part of Fine Gael’s negotiating team, told reporters he hoped the parties would be in a position to bring the talks to a conclusion on Monday.

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