Coalition talks yet to address major issues

Thursday 03 March 2011 22.19
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Michael Noonan - Some issues the Opposition had not been briefed on
Michael Noonan - Some issues the Opposition had not been briefed on
Enda Kenny - At Government Buildings for talks
Enda Kenny - At Government Buildings for talks
Gerry Adams - Confirmed as Sinn Féin leader in 31st Dáil
Gerry Adams - Confirmed as Sinn Féin leader in 31st Dáil

It is understood that major issues have yet to be addressed at the Fine Gael, Labour talks on a possible coalition government.

The initial two days of discussions were given over to background briefings from officials.

Talks resumed this morning in Government Buildings.

On his way in to Leinster House today, Labour negotiator Pat Rabbitte confirmed that the party had received 'a more comprehensive briefing on the circumstances in which we find ourselves' over the last two days.

Mr Rabbitte said there was not too much positive on the horizon in terms of the economic, financial or banking situations.

Fine Gael's Finance Spokesperson Michael Noonan said that while the Opposition had access to officials prior to the election, there were some issues it had not been briefed on.

Fine Gael will argue that the gloomy prospects for the economy bolster its case for getting on with cutting the deficit, but Labour says that the figures indicate that the banks remain a major impediment to recovery.

A provisional deadline of the weekend has been set for completion of a draft programme for government.

Kenny to meet Merkel

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny earlier confirmed that he expects to have a discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel when he meets her during a summit of leaders of the parties in their European political group tomorrow.

Asked if he would have a one-on-one meeting with her, Mr Kenny said he would 'certainly get a few minutes.'

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary criticised indications by Fine Gael and Labour that the public finances were 'worse than they thought', saying the comments suggest the potential coalition partners may back away from implementing some of their promises.

He said the parties were given unprecedented access to briefings by officials in the Department of Finance before Christmas.

He said that during the General Election, Fianna Fáil pointed out there was a €5bn black hole in the Fine Gael proposals.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin's 14 TDs have met today and confirmed Gerry Adams will lead them in the 31st Dáil.

Elsewhere, the Fianna Fáil leader's idea of getting more younger candidates to go forward to contest the Seanad election is due to be discussed an Ard Comhairle meeting tonight.

The notion has already caused some tension among sitting senators.

The Fianna Fáil National Executive will hold its first meeting since the general election.

It is expected Micheal Martin's idea of getting younger candidates to contest the Seanad election will be discussed.