Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten is among a group of five Independent TDs who are set to intensify discussions with Fine Gael “with a view to trying to form a Government in the national interest”.
The five TDs, namely Michael Collins, Noel Grealish, Michael Harty, Mattie McGrath and Denis Naughten met this morning and released the following joint statement a short time ago
“Following the discussions over the last 12 days with both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, we believe that Fine Gael is seriously determined to form a government and as the party is in the driving seat – with eight extra Dáil votes – we are now prepared to sit down and actively engage on a programme for government” stated the TDs.
“We are firmly of the belief that no agreement can be achieved without the cooperation of Fianna Fáil and we will continue to insist that any programme will be a ‘Political Partnership Agreement’ which will be a partnership agreement across all constructive TDs.
“We are not making any determination on who we will support for the Office of An Taoiseach at this stage, but we believe that the current political stand-off by all parties is not in the best interest of this country, of those who are homeless, those who are on trollies, those who are unemployed or struggling to meet day to day bills and the issues that affect rural Ireland.”
The statement concluded by saying “As a result of our decision, we have now sought an early face to face meeting with Enda Kenny with a view to initiating talks on a Political Partnership Agreement.
The Political Partnership Agreement referred to in the statement is something which Denis Naughten explained in a post on his blog last Sunday and would be similar to the “Social Partnership Agreements” in the 1980s. He said
Such an agreement, independently chaired, would be constructed by all TDs of the political parties Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Social Democrats, the Green Party and a number of Independents who are willing to assist in putting a Government together.
The Political Partnership Agreement would deal between a ‘coalition of the constructive TDs’ in Dail Eireann with a clear plan to address the serious issues of the housing crisis, rural and provincial decimation, health service chaos and climate change.
He went on to say that “From my discussions with other Independent TDs and smaller parties, they seem to hunger for change more than Government and I think that a Political Partnership Agreement could establish a sound foundation on which to construct a Government that would have the support of a clear majority of Dail Eireann in order to implement a plan that can deliver for all its people; in cities, towns, villages and rural communities throughout this country”. The idea has also received a very positive response from a range of political commentators following the publication of the post.
Speaking on the “Lets Talk” show on Shannonside FM yesterday, Deputy Naughten rejected suggestions that he and Deputy Fitzmaurice were not working closely enough in this unprecedented talks process. Michael Fitzmaurice also took to the airwaves yesterday to dismissed reports in the Sunday Independent that he has been offered the Agriculture Minister’s portfolio in exchange for support of a minority Fine Gael government. Michael Healy-Rae, who was linked with a Rural Affairs role in the same article has also played down similar suggestions.