The independent regional group of nine non-aligned TDs has become the most likely target of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as coalition partners.
However, members of the group have said privately that they would be reluctant to form a coalition with the two big parties without another smaller political party on board. They expressed concern that the numbers would not be enough to guarantee a stable government that could last a full term.
Fianna Fáil has 37 TD in the 33rd Dáil, while Fine Gael has 35, giving them a total of 72. The nine members of the regional group would bring the number to 81, a slim majority. There are 160 TD.
“We need another party to participate,” said a member of the group who requested anonymity. “It would be a red line for us. Without a party on board, the Independents would have no coverage. Opposition parties could identify the most vulnerable independents in their own constituencies.
The Regional Group has maintained permanent contacts with the two major parties since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. When asked if a second group of freelancers would suffice, the TD regional group said no.
“What is essential for us is stability. It is not in our best interests to facilitate a government that lasts only months, or a year or two.
The group is the largest of the three independent groups of the current Dáil.
Mattie McGrath of the rural group of six DT said he hasn’t spoken to any parties in the past 20 days but is still exploring options.
The Independent Group also has six TDSs, but only three of them – Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael McNamara and Marian Harkin – have expressed interest in forming a government.
Mr Fitzmaurice has submitted a guidance document to the parties outlining a number of priorities, including issues relating to his home region in the west of Ireland.
All the small parties have ruled out participating in a coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. However, some believe the Labor Party may reconsider its current position following the outcome of its leadership race in early April.
There was no discussion between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on Thursday, but both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress of negotiations on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Verona Murphy, a member of the Regional Independent Group, said Wexford TD, which previously ran for the Fine Gael election, would have no problem with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar staying in place for the duration of the election. the current crisis.
“Negotiating an agenda for the government amid the worst public health crisis to hit the country in a century is not an ideal situation, and Verona would personally have no problem leaving Leo in place for the duration of the crisis. crisis, then a program for the government can be negotiated, ”the spokesperson said.
“In reality, the man who runs the country is [the State’s chief medical officer] Dr Tony Holohan, along with all parties and independents support the actions taken by the CMO at this time. “
The spokesperson said Ms Murphy also believed that in any negotiation Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should first agree on a policy document before contacting independents.
This point was also raised by Independent Tipperary TD Michael Lowry, another member of the Regional Independent Group, who also said those entering government must be prepared to make tough decisions and stick to them.
“When they have done that, they will bring it to us for input,” Lowry said of both sides.
“If anyone comes into government, they know they will have to make tough decisions,” said Mr. Lowry, who has supported many governments in the past. “Difficult times are ahead. “
He said no one in government would make excessive demands, and said most knew it was time to help the country recover and stabilize.