The regional independent group of nine non-aligned DTs has become the most likely target for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as coalition partners.
However, group members have said in private that they would be reluctant to join the two major parties without another smaller political party on board. They were concerned that the numbers would not be enough to guarantee a stable government that could last a full term.
Fianna Fáil has 37 touchdowns 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 numbers to 81, a slim majority. There are 160 DT.
“We need another party to participate,” said a member of the group who spoke on condition of 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 continuous contact with the two main parties since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. When asked if a second group of freelancers would suffice, the TD regional group replied that it was not.
“What is essential for us is stability. It is not in our interest to facilitate a government that would last 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 DTs, said he hadn’t spoken to any party in the past 20 days, but was still exploring options.
The Independent Group also has six TDSs, but only three of its members – Michael Fitzmaurice, Michael McNamara and Marian Harkin – have expressed interest in forming the government.
Mr. Fitzmaurice has submitted to the parties a guidance document outlining many of the priorities, including issues relating to his home region, the West of Ireland.
All small parties have ruled out participating in a Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil coalition. However, some believe there is a feeling that the Labor Party may change its current position following the results of its leadership contest in early April
There were no talks between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael om Thursday, but the two sides said they were satisfied with the progress of negotiations on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Verona Murphy, a member of the independent regional group, said that Wexford TD, which was previously a candidate for Fine Gael, would have no problem keeping the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in place for the duration of the crisis current.
“Negotiating a government program in the midst of 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 then a program for the government can be negotiated, “said the spokesperson.
“In reality, the man who runs the country is [the chief medical officer of the state], Dr. Tony Holohan, and all parties and independents support the actions taken by the CMO at this time.”
The spokesman said Ms. Murphy also believed that in any negotiation, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil should first agree on a mutual policy document before approaching the independents.
This point was also highlighted by independent Tipperary TD MP Michael Lowry, another member of the Independent Regional Group, who also said that those who enter government must be prepared to make tough decisions and stick to them.
“Once done, they will present it to us for comments,” said Lowry of the two sides.
“If someone enters government, they get involved knowing that tough decisions will have to be made,” said Lowry, who has supported many governments in the past. “The tough times are coming.”
He said that no one in the government would make excessive demands, and that most knew it was time to help the country recover and stabilize.