Just out of the Chamber from round 3 of voting. Here’s broadly where it’s at:
1. With Sinn Féin off the pitch, the only 2 parties that can form a government are Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael (let’s hope that changes in future elections, but that’s what we’re dealing with for now);
2. A coalition has been ruled out by Fianna Fáil;
3. A minority Fianna Fáil government has been ruled out by Fine Gael. (this is the reason why the majority of independents have pulled out of talks, citing it as a fundamentally undemocratic position for Fine Gael to take);
4. A minority Fine Gael government will now be explored by these two parties;
5. If something can be agreed, Fine Gael are likely to go back to the independents to seek their support .Here’s why: the numbers are such that, if Fianna Fáil were to abstain on any given vote, Fine Gael would need 58 votes to ensure a vote passes (that means their 50, plus Michael Lowry, so they’d need another 7 independents);
6. The Social Democrats have stated that we will not enter government with Fine Gael. Why? Because with just three TDs (for now, hopefully), versus their 50, we would end up having to defend many policies we believe damage the country (see last five years), in exchange for very little ability to effect genuine change. As such, we will engage positively in the Dáil on an issue-by-issue basis, helping craft, and voting for, legislation we believe beneficial, opposing legislation we believe damaging, and continuing to advocate for the sort of real and meaningful change we believe is needed.