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Saturday 19 August 2017

Exclude all boom-era FF TDs from Cabinet, Fine Gael tells Kenny

Enda Kenny (left) was warned by his party to ‘tread carefully’ in any talks with Fianna Fail’s
Micheal Martin (PA)
Enda Kenny (left) was warned by his party to ‘tread carefully’ in any talks with Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin (PA)

Fianna Fail TDs who served as ministers during the boom era must be excluded from Cabinet positions in any “grand coalition”, Fine Gael TDs have told Enda Kenny.

The Taoiseach was warned to “tread carefully” in any negotiations with Micheal Martin as the prospect of a deal between the two main parties was openly discussed last night.

Mr Kenny used a gathering of his TDs and senators to shore up support for his own position ahead of negotiations with Fianna Fail.

But during the three-hour meeting, the Fine Gael leader insisted that any coalition the party enters into must be “workable”.

TDs and senators voiced support for a proposal from newly-elected deputy Colm Brophy that any future coalition must be referred to a Fine Gael Ard Fheis for approval.

Growing

It comes as senior Fianna Fail TDs continue to rule out a “grand coalition” – especially if Mr Kenny is Taoiseach.

Carlow/Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward said the prospect of a deal was more likely if Fine Gael had a different leader.

“I’d have to be able to bring my supporters with me, and many of them are saying to me it would be easier for them if Kenny wasn’t there,” he told the Herald.

There is now a growing view within Fianna Fail that the party would be best served supporting a minority Fine Gael government.

But any effort to demand Mr Kenny’s removal prior to coalition negotiations will be shot down by Fine Gael, whose TDs last night rallied behind their leader.

Fine Gael TDs reacted angrily to what they described as constant “lecturing” by senior Fianna Fail figures in relation to issues such as Irish Water.

There was widespread applause at the meeting after it was suggested by Carlow/Kilkenny TD Pat Deering that ministers who served at Cabinet during the boom era should not be given ministerial posts in any FG/FF Coalition. 

Other TDs and senators present said they strongly agreed with the proposal.

“Some of these Fianna Fail TDs lecturing us were sitting at the Cabinet that oversaw our collapse – we can’t have any situation where they are given that type of responsibility again,” said a source.

Meanwhile, sources at the meeting said Mr Kenny warned of the need to be patient and that the upcoming negotiation process could take some time.

He also proposed the establishment of an all-party Dail committee that will set out new guidelines for how the Dail operates.

The committee will be chaired by the new Ceann Comhairle, who will be elected when the Dail sits for the first time tomorrow.

It will include representatives of all parties and groupings in the new Dail.

But Mr Kenny will be concerned by the vastly different views expressed at the meeting in relation to coalition options.

Galway West TD Sean Kyne is understood to have spoken of the prospect of forming a minority government, while Carlow/Kilkenny backbencher John Paul Phelan told the meeting that going into opposition was an option worth considering.

But within Fianna Fail, the feeling towards a grand coalition is mixed. Deputies such as Barry Cowen, Willie O’Dea, Sean Fleming and Niall Collins are understood to be deeply opposed to such a scenario, while others privately said it is the “only show in town”.

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