The General Election last month gave NO political party a mandate to govern and instead the electorate has decided that we all need to work together in the interests of our country.
However while many of those I have spoken with, both within political parties and outside, are determined to make up a Government I’m of the belief that there is an undercurrent, maybe inadvertently, that this is about putting a Government together which prioritises political party and career ahead of the country itself.
While both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have made it clear to me that they are open to constructive inputs to a Programme for Government, both at this stage have ruled out engaging with the potential main opposition party.
I believe this is irresponsible because the fact is that neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fail can form a Government without at least the benign consent of the other. Yet they expect individual TDs and smaller parties to sign up to a plan which will subsequently have to be negotiated on the whole, or on a case by case basis with the main opposition party.
This will neither be stable nor sustainable.
Back in the 1980s with the industrial relations turmoil, the country got a break to help bring about a real recovery when the first in a series of Social Partnership Agreements were signed and implemented.
Today, we need a similar structure to bring about a Political Partnership Agreement across a broad range of TDs in Dail Eireann who are willing to come up to the plate of Government.
Such an agreement, independently chaired, would be constructed by all TDs of the political parties Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, the Social Democrats, the Green Party and a number of Independents who are willing to assist in putting a Government together.
The Political Partnership Agreement would deal between a ‘coalition of the constructive TDs’ in Dail Eireann with a clear plan to address the serious issues of the housing crisis, rural and provincial decimation, health service chaos and climate change.
Fine Gael is suggesting such a round table discussion on a Programme for Government, without the inclusion of Fianna Fail. Fianna Fáil’s director of elections, Billy Kelleher, gave an interview to Seán O’Rourke recently suggesting something similar called a “programme for parliament”.
From my discussions with other Independent TDs and smaller parties, they seem to hunger for change more than Government and I think that a Political Partnership Agreement could establish a sound foundation on which to construct a Government that would have the support of a clear majority of Dail Eireann in order to implement a plan that can deliver for all its people; in cities, towns, villages and rural communities throughout this country.
Yes, issues will arise that are not agreed or not envisaged at the time of drafting up the Political Partnership Agreement, but that is why a radically reformed Dail is so important to deliver a Government that rules by consent and not by diktat.
Such a round table forum would allow all of those who participate in the talks to see exactly who is committed to delivering on such a plan and this could lead to a real national Government made up of members from the two main parties, the two smaller parties and independents. A real partnership Government, to deliver a real Programme for Government, built on co-operation.