Irish Republican News · June 8, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Coalition talks break down

Talks between Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fail and the Green Party to agree a programme for a coalition government have broken down without a deal, raising new question marks over which parties will be in a position to form a government when the Dublin parliament sits next Thursday.

Confirming that the talks had collapsed at a press conference in Dublin this evening, Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said: “We have taken this as far as we possibly can and the ball is now in the court of others.”

“We are not giving up hope but at this point we have taken it as far as we can. Our door is open to all who wish to discuss the format of a stable government. We’re not closing the door on any particular prospects.”

Mr Sargent said that the objectives of the Green Party were not sufficiently reflected in the programme for government that was on the table. He cited issues such as proper planning, housing, reform of local government, the health service and education as among those upon which agreement was not reached.

The party said in a statement that the differing approaches between the parties on these issues were “insurmountable”.

The Green Party earlier said the issues where they had not found common ground included climate change, including “forward-thinking transport and congestion solutions”, funding to bring the education system into the 21st century, the transformation of local government, and reform of the healthcare system.

This morning, senior Fianna Fail members were reported to have said that the M3 motorway, planned to pass through the Hill of Tara archaelogical site, and the US military’s future use of Shannon were also obstacles.

Fianna Fail has previously resisted the Greens’ demands that the new government should order a 3 per cent cut in Ireland’s annual carbon dioxide emissions to cope with global warming, while a plan to cut income tax was also a problem.

Around 800 members of the Green Party were to attend a meeting in Dublin on Sunday, which the party said has now been cancelled.

Mr Sargent did not this evening rule out entering talks with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who has still refused to rule out the possibility of heading a government.

Party chairman John Gormley, who was a member of the delegation at Government Buildings, described the breakdown of talks with Fianna Fail as “a no-fault divorce”.

He added that the collapse had been “amicable” and he wished Fianna Fail well.

The confirmation that the talks have fallen apart now means Ahern, with the support of the Progressive Democrats and a few independent TDs, can only achieve the slimmest of majorities in the Dail. Barring a new strategy, such a government would be unlikely to last the five-year term.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has still failed to rule out the possibility of heading a government with Labour and he has also held talks with acting Progressive Democrat leader Mary Harney.

Although both sides have previously ruled out bringing Sinn Fein into a coalition, that option could yet come into play for either Ahern or Kenny.

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© 2007 Irish Republican News