Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to meet next week to discuss forming new government

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to meet next week to discuss forming new government

LEO VARADKAR and Michael Martin have agreed to meet next week for 'exploratory talks' to form a coalition government.

The leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil made the decision on Thursday evening after TDs failed to elect a new Taoiseach on the first day of the 33rd Dáil.

According to a Fine Gael spokesperson, Varadkar and Martin talked over the phone last night to organise the meeting, but were yet to determine the exact location and time of the talks.

After only managing to secure 31 votes yesterday, Varadkar announced that he would be stepping down as Taoiseach, but would remain in the role until a new government is formed.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald received the most votes to become the next Taoiseach (45), with Martin receiving 41, but both were still well short of the required majority of 80.

Elsewhere, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan received 12 votes in favour of him as Taoiseach.

Aside from meeting with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael is also due to meet the Green Party for talks next week, too.

With Varadkar opting to resign and Fine Gael winning fewer seats than both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, it's effectively now a two-horse race between McDonald and Martin regarding the office of Taoiseach.

Sinn Féin has been meeting with a number of smaller parties and independents in a bid to form a government without Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil but the numbers make it difficult.

Fianna Fáil has 38 seats, Sinn Féin has 37 and Fine Gael has 35. Both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have repeatedly ruled out going in to coalition with Sinn Féin.

Martin stated on Wednesday that for “many reasons” Fianna Fáil forming a coalition with Sinn Féin “would not be the right thing to do”, saying he had written to McDonald to explain that decision.