Government formation talks continued this week following a weekend of controversy between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over revelations that officials in the Department of Housing and Local Government are preparing contingency plans should a new general election be required later this year. Leo Varadkar, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan met on Monday and agreed to put the issue behind them.
Despite this slight set back, the talks have continued successfully with the Green Party securing an agreement to radically improve the country’s direct provision system. The parties committed to improving the conditions for those in direct provision including facilities, standard of accommodation and access. An agreement was also reached on reducing the waiting times of those in direct provision. The three parties have accepted that progress on this issue will take several years but will require a “whole of government approach” to reform.
However, Wednesday brought some uncertainty to the talks after the Green Party’s deputy leader, Catherine Martin TD, declared that she may stand against Eamon Ryan for the party leadership. In a statement on Wednesday Evening, Deputy Martin announced that she will seriously consider a run for the leadership of the Green Party but only after talks on a programme for government have concluded. Green Party rules say a leadership election must be held within six months after the holding of a general election. Despite this degree of uncertainly, it is understood that the three parties agreed that legislation on protecting the Irish language needed to go further than the Bill proposed in the last Dáil. The topics being discussed over the coming days will centre on climate action and local government reform.