Dublin / AFP
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny held talks on Thursday with opposition leader Micheal Martin to end the impasse over a new government following inconclusive elections in February.
After an initial meeting on Wednesday, Kenny’s Fine Gael party said in a statement it had offered a “full and equal partnership” in a future administration to Martin’s Fianna Fail—its historic bitter rival.
Fianna Fail lawmakers are due to meet later on Thursday to discuss the proposal.
It was the first time Kenny and Martin had met since the February 26 election, when the outgoing governing Fine Gael won 50 seats and Fianna Fail 43 in the 158-seat Dail, or lower house of
Ireland’s acting minister for agriculture and member of the Fine Gael negotiating team Simon Coveney described the offer as “generous and serious”.
He dismissed suggestions that it was a political manoeuvre to give his party the moral high ground in the event that agreement cannot be reached, which would trigger another general election.
Speaking on RTE, Ireland’s state broadcaster, Coveney said it would be premature to discuss what exactly full partnership might entail but said it would also involve independent lawmakers.
“We need to put historical differences aside, to agree to put policy and personality differences on the table and find a way of negotiating compromise so both parties can put a partnership government together,” he said.
“I think it is in the best interest of the country for the two largest parties to come together along with the independents, to bring balance and diversity and the voting strength to pass the legislation we need to pass,” he said.
However, there is significant opposition within Fianna Fail to entering a coalition with Fine Gael.
One or other of the two behemoths of Irish politics have held power since the foundation of the state evolved from the bitter divisions that catapulted the country into civil war from 1922-1923.