A majority of Clare Fine Gael councillors support the current proposed national coalition of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, according to the findings of a Clare Champion survey.
Councillor Gabriel Keating said efforts should have been made to form a national government made up of a number of political parties last March.
Stressing the need for a new government to be elected as quickly as possible, he is a little reluctant to give his full support for a Fianna Fáil (FF), Fine Gael (FG) and Green Party (GP) coalition as he doesn’t think this will be good for rural Ireland.
Instead, he supports a coalition of these parties with Labour and a group of rural Independents like Michael McNamara, which he feels would be better able to deal with these challenging times.
Councillor Johnny Flynn said he would not vote for any coalition deal with Fine Gael and Sinn Féin as he disagreed with some of their key policies.
After getting almost 25% of the first preference vote, he recalled SF tried to form a left-wing government but failed to do so.
The Ennis Councillor said it was important to recognise that SF hadn’t performed well in four of the last five elections, which included the Presidential, Local Elections, European and the recent Senate contests.
Back in 2011, he recalled when Fine Gael took office Ireland has lost its sovereignty and was seen as high risk for borrowing on the international markets with crippling interest rates of up to 15%.
Having restored the country’s international reputation in the financial markets, he said the next government will be able to borrow at almost zero interest rates, which is vital as Ireland needs a strong economy to deal with public health issues caused by the pandemic and the resulting recession.
Councillor Paul Murphy doesn’t have any ideological issue entering coalition with FF, citing the GAA’s historic decision to open up Croke Park for soccer and rugby.
“History is history, we can move on. The outcome of the talks will be judged on the Programme for Government,” he said.
Commenting on the involvement of the Green Party in any future coalition, he stressed that farmers and rural Ireland shouldn’t suffer unduly from any reduction in greenhouse gases as he believes that a lot of environmental problems are located in Dublin.He questioned whether SF was seriously interested in becoming part of the next government.
Councillor Joe Cooney expressed concern that following a General Election last February the country still is nowhere near agreeing a government in the middle of a serious health and economic crisis.
The Fine Gael Councillor supports the proposed coalition provided strong measures are put in place to revitalise rural Ireland in the next Programme for Government.
He also stressed the farming community must be supported by the next government and doesn’t want rural Ireland to be left behind as a result of the current economic crisis.
Councillor Mary Howard praised An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty for doing a “fabulous job” dealing with the health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19.
The Ennis Councillor expressed concern about how a national government could work effectively to take serious decisions to revitalise the economy with so many parties with different views and policies.
She proposed the current caretaker government should be left in place until the current crisis is over.
However, if the current coalition talks don’t secure a deal, her next preference would be a General Election, which would be challenging in terms of canvassing as she believes in the short term the traditional form of knocking on doors wouldn’t be acceptable in terms of public health.
Councillor Pat Burke said he isn’t in favour of allowing SF to be part of any coalition deal based on their economic policies.
The Whitegate farmer said the country needs a “safe pair of hands” to take tough decisions and noted there isn’t a lot of difference between FF and FG in policy terms.
He recalled Fine Gael brought the country back from the brink in 2011 and was performing reasonably well until Covid-19.
“The Government needs to avoid a Shane Ross type figure that has no clue about what is happening in rural Ireland. I am not sure how a national government works without an opposition. You need a strong opposition and if SF are it so be it.
“I have no issue with the Green Party provided they don’t railroad decisions that adversely affect farmers. The formation of a stable government is the most important consideration at the moment,” he said.
Councillor Joe Garrihy supports the current coalition option as he believes that FF and FG have the necessary experience to deal with the EU and to take the tough decisions in the middle of an economic crisis.
“National Government is an experiment we don’t have the luxury of trying. We need to come up with something solid and realistic for government that everyone can stick to for the next five years,” he said.