Irish government extension talks need few more weeks -Deputy PM
DUBLIN, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Ireland's Fine Gael party and the
main opposition backing its minority government will need to
negotiate for a few more weeks before they decide whether to
extend their expiring cooperation deal, Deputy Prime Minister
Simon Coveney said on Friday.
Fine Gael has ruled since 2016 through a "confidence and
supply" deal with its main rival, Fianna Fail, which agreed to
abstain from opposition-driven votes over the course of three
annual budgets, the last of which was presented last month.
"We have an understanding with Fianna Fail that the
discussions are confidential. They are making reasonably good
progress but I think there's a few weeks in it yet," Coveney,
who is leading the talks for Fine Gael, told reporters at the
party's annual conference.
The talks began three weeks ago but have so far moved slowly
as the government grapples with Brexit negotiations that hinge
on the future management of the land border between EU-member
Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said he wants to extend the
government deal until mid-2020, and capitalising on Fine Gael's
increased popularity by instead calling a snap election appears
to be off the table until there is greater clarity on how
neighbouring Britain will leave the EU.
Fianna Fail, many of whose members are unwilling to hand
Fine Gael an extension of more than a year, should they agree
one, told Varadkar last month to remove the threat of an
election until the British parliament ratifies a Brexit deal.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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