Members would “struggle to join Fianna Fáil in the rosary, not to mind in a programme for government”: Tipperary politicians divided on latest developments

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The political parties looking to form a government have started putting their proposed deal to party members.

There’s sceptics in all parties as a two week voting process is being prepared.

And there’s been a variety of views from party members and independents around Tipperary.

Fianna Fáil rank and file members will have to accept that the party needs to go into coalition with Fine Gael despite their reservations.

That’s according to Thurles-based Fianna Fáil Councillor, Séamus Hanafin, who says they have to accept that to have any relevance Fianna Fáil needs to be in government:

“We have always kind of stood on our own and Fine Gael have always been the people we have opposed – and I understand that.

“But, I suppose, there’s also a view among very many Fianna Fáil people that we are where we are and Fianna Fáil got 14% and I would say to everybody in Fianna Fáil, we need to ask ourselves why are we there? And I suspect the reason we’re there is that we have not been seen to be relevant. And the reason we’re not seen to be relevant is because we’re not in government.

“So if we want to build our party base we need to be in government to do that and we need to be delivering on our policies.”

Independent TD for Tipperary, Michael Lowry doesn’t believe this programme for government will be delivered.

He’s told Tipp FM that during his time in politics, he has never seen a programme fully implemented:

“When I see the fudges in reports, I look at them and I see commissions and reports and examinations and referendums. That means, in simple language, decisions deferred, decisions postponed, decisions long-fingered.

“And that is the problem. You have to be realistic and you have to be pragmatic in politics. You can only deal with the resources that you have.

“You can have all the idealistic ambitions that you like but at the end of the day, everything has to be funded and there’s costs involved in rolling out some of these objectives.”

The Chair of the Green Party locally, says much of the language used in the Programme for Government is too vague, and is unsure whether it’ll receive the approval of members.

David Ahern believes Green Party negotiators pulled off a very good job with some commitments, but thinks it could be a difficult overall deal to swallow:

“It’s a very, very difficult decision for any Green members to make. We wouldn’t be the biggest fans of going into government with Fine Gael.

“It’s a tough one because of the climate crisis that we’re facing, things need to be done. So, I couldn’t tell you what way it’s going to go. It’s going to be very, very, very tight.”

Meanwhile, the decision by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to bury the Civil War hatchet is a sign of the times that we’re in, according to Tipperary’s Fine Gael senator, Garret Ahearn.

He has accused Sinn Féin of bottling out of trying to form a government, particularly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

Speaking on Tipp Today, he accepted that many within his party may find it difficult going into coalition with Fianna Fáil though:

“I think there’s mixed views within the party. I know members of the Fine Gael party who would struggle to join Fianna Fáil in the rosary, not to mind joining them in a programme for government.

“You know what people voted for and what people wanted in the last election in February is something different. And I think Fine Gael recognise that. We obviously took a step back for the first number of months to let other people lead a government.

“There was, in my view, quite weak efforts in terms of forming a government with some other political parties. And once we were hit with a pandemic, they certainly had no interest after that.”

However, Sinn Féin TD, Martin Browne, refutes the idea that Sinn Féin didn’t come to the table and that their efforts in negotiations were “weak.”

He has also hit out at how much this new programme for government is going to cost.

The Cashel-based deputy says the document presented yesterday is high on promise but doesn’t deliver on the finer detail:

“We have been given a document with no costings as such. Let’s be honest, if we had produced this document, and during the general election campaign we were accused of having ‘magic money trees’ and we would have been laughed off the stage if we’d produced this yesterday without any bit of costing in it.

“We need to see what kind of costings the housing, the greenways [will have]… this isn’t a done deal by any means.”