“Good for the country” is how Tánaiste Simon Coveney described the draft coalition government deal after intense talks to form a coalition Government over the weekend continued into last night.
Speaking at Government buildings, the Tánaiste said that “a lot of good work” has been done and that leaders needed to finalise “a very small number of issues” with a text for a government.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that although there were outstanding issues to be resolved, that the programme for government represents “a new departure for Irish society”.
“It will bring transformative change to how we do things and prepare the country well for the next decade and prepare us for the economic situation that Covid-19 has created - that will take centre stage,” he said ahead of the negotiations.
However, there were still outstanding issues between the parties that needed to be resolved last night.
The abolition of direct provision, increases in carbon taxes, free contraception, more powers for local government, and significant additional investment in health and housing are among the main items contained in the new programme for government which continued to be discussed late into Sunday night.
Fianna Fáil has insisted that the pension age should not be increased to 67 until next year while Fine Gael has said taxes should not be increased for workers as the country faces a deep recession.
A Green Party source said a ban on fracked gas imports would likely see deputy leader Catherine Martin backing the deal, which could help to persuade two thirds of its party members to approve the agreement.
However, Green Party Councillor Lorna Bogue said that she will be going through the programme “with a fine-tooth comb and looking at what Cork is going to get out of it”.
“I’m going to be looking at it to see if it is going to be a good deal for Cork or is it something that is actually going to harm my constituents.
“That’s how I’ll be making my decision,” she said.
The Cork City South East councillor said that she is “very wary” of the language used by party leaders surrounding the balancing of the budget in two years' time by not introducing tax increases, as it means they will “have to cut services”.
She said that although the negotiation talks seemed positive, that she remains cautious and wants to see timelines, financing and whether commitments needed are being provided for.
She said that certain agreements such as an annual spend of €360m on walking and cycling infrastructure needs to be looked at “in the grand scheme of things”.
“The thing that I would be cognitive of is how many local authorities there are in Ireland because once you divide these figures by the number of local authorities, soon the numbers start to dwindle quite a bit.
“That particular figure, split it out between the different local authorities, then you’re looking at two or three infrastructural projects a year,” she said.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said that since the election, his constituents are “very angry” because people voted for change.
He said that the big worry for people is that “some form of austerity” will be brought about.
“The way Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are talking, it’s like they’re preparing people for more cuts or reduced services which we can see in Cork City Council, there’s a shortfall of almost €10 million. That means services will have to cut back."