Ireland’s PM strikes minority government deal

By Michael Sercan Daventry

LONDON (AA) – Ireland appeared on track to forming a minority government on Saturday, more than two months after an inconclusive parliamentary election.

Caretaker Prime Minister Enda Kenny was expected to begin talks on Saturday with independent lawmakers to join his cabinet after the Fianna Fail party – his closest rivals in parliament – agreed to support an administration led by him until 2018.

Under the deal, Kenny’s Fine Gael party would form a minority government that includes lawmakers from the Irish parliament’s large group of independents.

The party said in a statement issued late on Friday night: “Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have reached a political agreement to facilitate a Fine Gael-led minority government.

“Both party leaders are now being briefed, extensive drafting has to be done and then Fianna Fail and Fine Gael will hold separate parliamentary party meetings to outline the details of the confidence and supply arrangement.”

The details of the deal were not announced but the Irish media reported the two parties had agreed to a combination of tax cuts and spending increases.

Parliament is expected to next meet on Wednesday to elect a taoiseach (prime minister) – a vote from which Fianna Fail is now expected to abstain.

But even with Fianna Fail’s abstention Kenny will need the support of at least six lawmakers and talks with the independent group would continue this weekend, state broadcaster RTE reported.

The deal between the country’s two largest parties means that for the first time the nationalist Sinn Fein party will become Ireland’s biggest single opposition party.