Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny agree to hold government formation talks

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith, political reporter

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin have finally agreed to hold crunch government formation talks.

Discussions will take place after next Wednesday's Dáil Taoiseach nomination vote.

Micheál Martin spoke to his rival in a 20-minute phone call today - the first time either has reached out to the other since the February 26 general election 33 days ago.

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House this afternoon, Mr Martin confirmed he contacted the Fine Gael leader this morning amid Irish Examiner reports the April 6 vote may not take place because it is destined to end in a stalemate.

Mr Martin said Mr Kenny insisted the vote will still take place, at which point he is believed to have sought a meeting with the Fianna Fáil leader tomorrow.

However, Mr Martin said he told Mr Kenny if the vote takes place any meeting must be delayed until after Wednesday - a position both potential taoisigh have now agreed.

"Just before lunchtime I rang the taoiseach. In the first instance I told him I read reports there may be moves to defer the vote on Wednesday, the vote for taoiseach," Mr Martin said this afternoon.

"I made it clear I wouldn't be supporting that, that I wanted it to go ahead next Wednesday and fall whatever way it falls.

"He confirmed that the vote would go ahead, and also that we are engaged in that negotiation process with the Independents and that we would be having (talks) sessions on Monday on Tuesday.

"We both agreed we would engage in the aftermath of that, and following conclusions on Wednesday," he said.

Mr Martin said despite the development his party "wouldn't be going into a grand coalition with Fine Gael", and said he told Mr Kenny he was frustrated by acting Jobs Minister Richard Bruton's comments yesterday that Fine Gael would not support a Fianna Fáil-led minority government, describing it as "intemperate language".

Mr Martin also said he did not know if next Wednesday will end in stalemate or if another election will occur, but said if this happens "the responsibility is on the entire Dáil".

Asked if Independents should now "pee or get off the pot" by explaining how they will vote because Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have now committed to talking to each other, the Fianna Fáil leader joked:

"That might be the fastest way of losing a vote".

It is understood Fianna Fáil wants to hold off on any talks with Fine Gael until after the April 6 vote because depending on the outcome two different conversations may take place.

Micheál Martin said he believed we were not going to have a new Government in place any time soon.

"I know people are anxious to know when a Government is going to be formed, but I think we're some few weeks away from that yet," he said.


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