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Enda makes the call as FG and Labour prepare to work together

ENDA Kenny made the most important phone call of his political life this morning as negotiations for a new Government got underway.

Fine Gael and Labour were today beginning the process of trying to put a new government together.

Despite some dramatic policy differences, particularly over the renegotiation of the EU/IMF bailout and public sector reform, the two parties now seem certain to form a coalition.

"The process will begin this morning," a Fine Gael spokesman told the Herald.

And in an article for the Herald, Labour's Pat Rabbitte -- who is likely to be one of the negotiators -- outlined some of his party's red line issues.


"What is not an optional extra is the imperative of political and institutional reform," he said.

"That means cutting ministerial salaries again and pensions only at retirement age. It means helicopter travel is for important business, not for opening off-licences."

Mr Rabbitte also insisted that the new government should immediately commit to a public inquiry by into the banking crisis -- something Fine Gael will most likely agree with.

"Whistleblowers should be protected and lobbyists required to register and state their business," said the re-elected Dublin South West TD.

A spokesman for Mr Kenny said he "won't be talking to anyone [publicly] until the process is gone through."

The two parties have only until March 9 before the Dail sits to elect a new Taoiseach ahead of a series of important EU meetings and the traditional St Patrick's Day visit to the White House.

Fine Gael is also expected to talk with a number of independents including Shane Ross who topped the poll in Dublin South, but party sources admit that Labour is the likely partner.

This would give them a coalition government with over 110 of the Dail's 166 seats.

Some Labour members have complained that Mr Kenny did not contact their party representatives over the weekend.

But today Fine Gael's Alan Shatter said: "I think it was very wise of Enda Kenny to take 24 hours to try and allow the results process to continue and complete, and of course we know it's still not completed in certain constituencies.

"It also set to take time for the democratic revolution that has taken place, something of a blue revolution in the context of the Fine Gael party seat change and to consider the mandate given to Fine Gael and how we go forward from here."