Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to discuss possibility of minority government

Representatives from the biggest parties in the Dáil are due to meet today

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Talks between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on the formation of a minority government will get underway this evening.

Independents who also spoke to both parties are also continuing to assess their demands to support such a government.

After a weekend of contacts and exploring options, negotiating teams from both parties will get down to business later today.

The focus will be on policies that both parties can agree on: the biggest battles are likely to be in the areas of Irish Water, health and tax.

But behind the scenes the 'wooing' of Independents continues, because whichever party gets the biggest block of those on board is the one that will lead the government.

Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice says they will take this day by day now.

But at this stage, it is unlikely that a programme or framework that would run for at least two and a half years will be in place in time for the next Dáil vote on Thursday.

This partly because the Independents are responding to both parties issue by issue, which will take time.

However, if there is no deal - and therefore no prospect of a lasting, stable government - it could lead to another election.

Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross says his group has not yet decided who to vote for yet.

Speaking to the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk, he said "whoever gives us the most radical and stable deal, we would go for. We would vote for whichever party produces that. But we don't have an agenda or preference at this stage".

A spokesperson from Fianna Fáil has said that he believed that both party leaders will be in close contact with their representatives as negotiations evolve.

The latest talks come after Fianna Fáil last week rejected Enda Kenny's proposition to join with Fine Gael and Independent TDs to form a partnership government.

Party leader Micheál Martin says he has expressed his willingness to support a Fine Gael minority government if necessary, adding that he hopes that Fine Gael can do the same "if the numbers fell in that direction".

Kevin Doyle is the group political editor with Independent News and Media. He spoke to Newstalk Breakfast earlier about the latest talks.

"If I was betting on it, I think we will have Enda Kenny back as Taoiseach," he explained. "Probably not on Thursday, because they'll need to be seen to thrash this out a bit more. But I wouldn't be surprised if we were back voting within a year".

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