That FF-FG arrangement May 5, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Thanks to the person who forwarded this!
As you are aware, Fianna Fáil did very well in the recent General Election. Notwithstanding this, the result still fell short of enabling us to lead a government in the 32nd Dáil. However, we did try on three occasions to lead a Fianna Fáil led minority government and unfortunately did not succeed.
Before the General Election, we promised not to enter coalition with Fine Gael. We have kept this promise. This is also why we refused to enter a partnership government. There is no evidence to show that if another general election was called that the result would be any different.
This is why the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party decided to enter talks with Fine Gael to negotiate a confidence and supply arrangement that enables Fianna Fáil to facilitate a Fine Gael–led minority government in the 32nd Dáil.
Minority governments are commonplace across Europe but this is the first time Ireland will have a formal confidence and supply arrangement. We did have some minority governments in the 1930s but they did not have such a wide gap – Fine Gael is actually 29 seats short of a majority. I believe that this is the first of many confidence and supply arrangements in Ireland.
The details of this arrangement can be found here. This arrangement is not a Programme for Government. It allows a Fine Gael-led minority government (provided it has at least 58 TDs) to be formed provided there is ongoing implementation of the agreed policies that Fianna Fáil prioritised in the attached document.
Fine Gael has already agreed to our request to prioritise spending on public services before tax cuts on a 2:1 basis. They have also agreed to prioritise cuts to the USC for low and middle income earners. We also negotiated an extension of mortgage interest relief, commitments to tackle variable rate mortgages and also an increase of up to 15% on rent supplement and HAP in targeted areas for families who rent.
These were all commitments in our Party’s manifesto An Ireland for All. We managed to agree €15 million to be allocated to the national Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to ensure that those waiting longest on waiting lists will be treated in 2017. As you can see here, we did get agreement to prioritise a regional approach to job creation, an increase in LEADER funding and also funding in deprived urban areas. Agriculture and the food industry also formed an important part of our demands and we succeeded in getting agreement to fully implement the two strategic documents Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025. This will require significant investment.
Here you will see an outline of how Irish Water will now have an External Advisory body overseeing it. This watchdog will be on a statutory basis. It will report quarterly to the Oireachtas and will have to ensure that it improves its transparency and accountability. It is agreed following the talks that Irish Water will be retained as a single utility in public ownership.
An Expert Commission will be set up to review best practices in water conservation and it will take submissions from the public. Its recommendations will be sent to the Special Oireachtas Committee on the Funding of Water Services.
Water charges will be suspended for nine months beginning from July. They will not be reintroduced unless it is by the will of the Dáil. This nine month suspension can be extended, if requested, by the Special Oireachtas Committee. This Special Committee is being set to review the funding model on how water services will be delivered. All of this is outlined here.
We will be an independent party in opposition and can bring forward all of our party policies through legislation, private member bills and through Committees.
It was nine weeks ago that Fianna Fáil led the way on political reform of the Dáil. This work is ongoing and we have three of our own TDs on this Reform Group. There will be many changes introduced to Standing Orders as there are now ten groupings in the 32nd Dáil.
All of this poses short, medium and long term challenges for our Party. However, I believe that we will continue to renew and build our Party by being a constructive middle ground Party of the centre ground. We will remain committed to a fairer Ireland and to a single tier recovery while being active members of our own communities.
I hope this letter updates you as much as possible. Please contact your local Councillor, Senator or TD if you have any queries.
Thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do, for Fianna Fáil.
Micheál Martin TD