dail's 'first duty to provide government'
minister Brendan Howlin expects Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to form a coalition government, despite the posturing by many within both camps.
'The bottom line is the Dail's first constitutional duty is to provide a government,' the Labour deputy told this newspaper.
'Talking about policies, things like health or housing is irrelevant till we have a government,' he said.
'We have 158 Dail deputies and they have to take their responsibilities seriously and offer and stable and balanced government,' he said, urging those in the two largest parties to 'step up to the plate'.
'I wouldn't really be a grand coalition, in many ways it would be a coming together of two parties that are not dissimilar,' said Deputy Howlin.
'What we will see happening is a dance macabre for a few weeks more before people look over the wall and see there is other alternative government,' he said.
'It's not a coalition I look forward to, it will be a centre right coalition, but Ireland needs a stable government.'
Deputy Howlin said he did not see Labour playing any role in a coalition.
'Labour offered themselves, but we have no mandate to go into one. The country first and foremost needs a government. There are some very dark clouds on the horizon, the prospect of a Brexit and the migration crisis undermining the viability of the EU and economic instability in parts of Europe and Asia,' he said. Commenting on the backroom talks on a coalition involving smaller parties, Deputy Howlin said 'these people are marching in and out of different political offices with files and everybody knows they are not going to cobble together a coalition of seven or eight disparate groups.
'It's time to put up or shut up really,' he said.