The Green Party leader, Trevor Sargent, has said it is 'premature' to talk about participating in any coalition government until after the General Election.

Mr Sargent was speaking in the wake of comments from Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny who said he 'wouldn't object' to the Greens being part of the rainbow coalition.

While Mr Kenny said no attempt had been made to form a pre-election pact, Mr Sargent said today his party was going 'straight to the people' and he advised Fine Gael to do the same.

The Green Party leader said it had a mandate from its Ard Fheis to go to the electorate as an independent party and would not try to 'stitch up a deal' before that.

He said the Greens did want a change of government and 'may well' get involved in negotiations after the election but not before.

Mr Sargent declined to say if he believed Mr Kenny's interview in The Irish Times had backfired.