CLARE’s Independent TD has described his talks on supporting a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition as “constructive”, but said he believes the parties’ preferred option is to have the Greens on-board, reducing the requirement for non-party deputies.
Deputy Michael McNamara met a negotiating team for two hours last Monday, alongside fellow Independents Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim) and Michael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway), and said that while the encounter was worthwhile, it didn’t constitute “meaningful negotiations”. “The talks were constructive, but I wouldn’t say there was any great level of engagement on either said,” he said. “The very clear preference is to get the Greens on board, alongside a few Independents bolted on for added stability.”
The three rural Independents presented a joint document and reviewed the framework document drawn up by the parties. Deputy McNamara stressed, however, that that he would be working independently for this constituency. “Everything I do is based on what’s best for Clare, even though we met as a team,” he said. “We underlined the need for balanced regional development and we understand now that there won’t be money to throw at things, but rural Ireland must have a fair share. I would expect that borrowing would secure capital projects such as the new bridges and bypass of Ennistymon and Killaloe, but would like more clarity of how day-to-day spending is to be balanced.”
Deputy McNamara described the FF-FG framework as lacking in detail, particularly with regard to agriculture. “I would expect far more detail and I voiced the view that we must have greater security and transparency in the food chain,” he said. “If we have learned anything from Covid-19 is that we must have food security and we won’t get that unless farmers here are paid a fair price. We also need clarity on who is profiting in the chain of production.”
The Scariff-based deputy also said that aviation policy was another of his priorities: “Nobody needs reminding about how precarious Shannon Airport is in the Covid-19 crisis and I will be keeping that to the forefront at all times.”
Predicting a drawn-out process on government formation, Deputy McNamara said he and fellow Independent would meet negotiators again: “It will rumble for some time until the Greens, Social Democrats and Labour indicate what they propose to do. I get the impression from Fine Gael in particular that they want another party on board, so we’ll know more in that case.”