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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Covid-19 pandemic is opportunity for transformative approach to government programme-Micheál Martin

-additional reporting Vivienne Clarke

The Fianna Fáil leader has refused to rule out reports he will be a rotating Taoiseach in any new coalition government with Fine Gael.

Micheál Martin said that it is “far too early” to be discussing who should be Taoiseach in the event of a coalition between his party and Fine Gael.

Micheál Martin said talks between both parties are at an advanced stage, and he hoped a framework document could be finalised by the end of next week.

“Whatever emerges has to reflect the election result,” he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

He said the key issue is to get an agreed agenda and policy platform, then the focus can be on rebooting the economy, and tackling health, housing and the environment.

Deputy Martin did confirm that any coalition between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would be based on "equal partnership".

But he would not be drawn on talk of a rotating Taoiseach.

He said: "Look I'm not going to get involved in that speculation other than to say myself and the Taoiseach did discuss this some weeks ago in terms of the agreement we reached to allow the talks to commence and proceed.

"Whereby the key principle agreed was that there would be an equal partnership, that there would be parity of esteem."

Mr Martin said that the Covid-19 pandemic was an opportunity for a transformative approach with regard to a programme for government. “Every crisis brings opportunities,” he said.

The numbers of people requiring social welfare payments were unprecedented and horrific, he said and that viable company had been “stood down” because of Covid-19.

A “significant radical approach” would have to be taken by Europe to provide funds for a way out of this crisis.

When asked about the decision of the Dáil to sit this afternoon, Mr Martin said in his personal opinion, given the lockdown situation, the Dáil should not come back until the “latter part of April.”

He said it was important to flatten the curve and every opportunity should be taken to do that.

Meanwhile, today's Dáil proceedings are being boycotted by the Labour party.

The House will meet this afternoon for a three-hour session to debate the response to Covid-19.

However, Labour has argued TDs should be supporting the "stay at home" message and not having non-essential sittings of the Dáil.