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Smaller parties want more clarity from FF and FG in coalition talks

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Social Democrat leaders Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy

Social Democrat leaders Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy

Social Democrat leaders Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy

Fianna Fail and Fine Gael are facing calls from smaller parties to provide more details on their government plans.

The three parties considering entering coalition met separately and all have decided to seek more information on the policy framework document published by the two larger parties earlier this week.

The Green Party agreed to spend the weekend drafting a more formal response to the document.

It seeks specific details on policy proposals before considering how to approach the next stage of negotiations.

During a three-hour meeting the party also discussed at length what format the next stage of negotiations should take.

During a teleconference call, the Labour Party decided the onus was not on it to form a government, but rather it was on the Green Party.

The new Labour Party leader Alan Kelly reaffirmed this was the view and he received unanimous backing from party colleagues.

However, they agreed to scrutinise the policy framework ahead of another meeting next week.

Woeful

Speaking after the meeting, Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan said the document was in parts "woeful", "contradictory" and "very badly and poorly put together".

"If any of the smaller parties produced that document you'd have people saying you are not playing senior hurling," she said.

The recently-elected senator said Labour could not go into government without the involvement of another party.

"Even if we decided to go in we're still not at the numbers.

"The game is with parties that are able to make up the numbers. We don't know where that's at," she said.

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats sent a list of detailed economic questions to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

The party asked Mr Donohoe for his department's economic outlook for the next three years in the wake of Covid-19.

It also sought projections for the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the economy.

Mr Martin was asked for the fiscal and economic projections underpinning the framework document he agreed with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

He was also asked for details of the levels of borrowing the document referred to and whether it would be within EU rules.

During a Social Democrats meeting yesterday afternoon it was agreed the party would wait for responses to both letters before engaging further.

The Regional Technical Group is considering the document ahead of a meeting due to take place on Monday.

On Wednesday, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael published their policy framework document, which is a first stepping stone towards an historic coalition between the two parties.

The document set out a series of aims which the two parties hope to achieve over the next five years if they can find a third party to support their coalition.