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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Greens want parties to focus on coronavirus rather than government formation

- Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke

Update: Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan has said that her party’s time would be better spent “focusing completely” on the coronavirus pandemic rather than getting involved in full government formation talks.

The reality of forming a majority government is complex, she told Newstalk Breakfast.

“A government is meant to last for five years, and that needs a proper programme for government. That would require a certain amount of talks, if you're going do it properly, and not fast-track it or cobble it together.

I cannot go into a room and argue about solar panels when people are dying.

Ms Hourigan said the Greens believe their time would be “better spent focusing completely on the coronavirus,” and that everybody in the Dáil has something to offer when dealing with the crisis.

She said: “We already collaborate, we already negotiate in how we run our country - the principle of a cross-party approach has already been recognised, because we have the party leaders going into a room every day with the Chief Medical Officer.

“I think it's really disappointing that in a time when we're in the middle of a crisis that we're going to spend the next few days divvying up ministries.”

Ms Hourigan said her party had not promised voters that they would not go into government with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Sinn Féin - and that any involvement in government would be based on policy.

Earlier: Greens call for temporary national government to deal with coronavirus

Negotiating teams from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will meet today to begin detailed talks on government formation.

However, it is unclear how they will deal with a call from the Green Party to suspend the discussions due to coronavirus.

Sources say yesterday's scoping exercise looking at how coalition negotiations between Fianna Fáíl and Fine Gael would work was "good and constructive".

With the Taoiseach in the States, and needing a green light from his party next week to begin formal talks, it is up to negotiating teams to thrash out the main issues until then.

Today's talks will likely get into more detail on how to tackle coronavirus, and Covid-19 has led to the Green Party dealing a blow to the discussions.

Both parties want the Greens to consider getting involved in coalition, but they say a crisis national government should be set up for three months instead and all talks suspended.

Sinn Féin says it may be willing to support a crisis national government to deal with coronavirus.

The party's justice spokesman, Martin Kenny, says his party will give it serious thought:

Mr Kenny said: "Everything that is on the table has to be considered, I think that is what we have to do. The Green Party have written to our party leader Mary Lou McDonald, she is going to look at that and consider it.

"At he moment our focus is on trying to deal with the situation at hand and we feel that the government, at present, is not dealing with it adequately.

"But as for whether or not a national government is the answer, certainly the jury is out on that and we will have to consider that very seriously."

It is unclear whether this will affect the talks process, and it is still too difficult to say how long discussions will go on for.