Republic of Ireland news

Dáil election: Attempts to form government could drag on into April

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will meet Independents and smaller parties in a bid to form a government

ATTEMPTS to form a government in the Republic could drag on past the beginning of April, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will have further meetings this week with smaller parties and Independent TDs.

The 32nd Dáil convened for its first session last Thursday, although no coalition has presented itself as capable of commanding a majority.

Talks on the formation of a new government will continue before the Dáil resumes on Tuesday of next week.

However, caretaker Taoiseach Enda Kenny also has to take part in St Patrick's Day engagements in the US tomorrow and an EU summit on Thursday.

Fine Gael TD Pascal Donohoe suggested the process would not be resolved by April 6, when TDs are due to meet at Leinster House.

"I think there will be more steps even after the 6th in relation to all of this," Mr Donohoe said.

"But I think we need to shift gear completely here now in terms of how this matter is being dealt with by the political parties."

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen, part of a four-strong party team who will meet Independents and smaller parties this week, dismissed suggestions of a 'grand coalition'.

"We can't break the one promise we made - one of the main promises or one of the main platforms on which we sought that change - and that was not to go into government directly with Fine Gael but to offer an alternative and we have the opportunity to explore that alternative," he said on RTÉ.

Meanwhile, an opinion poll suggested the general election result would remain largely the same if voters were asked to go to the polls again.

The Sunday Business Post/RED C survey came amid speculation another election could be called if the parties fail to form a government.

The poll of more than 1,000 voters found Fine Gael support up one point to 27 per cent and Fianna Fáil up one to 25 per cent.

Sinn Féin also saw a one-point increase to 15 per cent, while Labour support fell by three points to 4 per cent.

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