Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said the next two to three weeks will be key in terms of forming a government and people’s willingness to engage will become clear.

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin has said the next two to three weeks will be key in terms of forming a government and people’s willingness to engage will become clear.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr Martin said a government made up of three parties with Independents is the best approach and the more secure it can be, the better. 
He said that the purpose of the framework document was to “get things moving” and he believes it has created a focus and catalyst for engagement.
Mr Martin said that he and Leo Varadkar had a broad understanding on a whole range of issues and these will be broached at a later stage.
He said this is not about personalities but about forming a government and wouldn’t be drawn on who will be Taoiseach.  
Mr Martin said overwhelming the view of the parliamentary party yesterday was to support a coalition with Fine Gael.
Party members are aware of the unprecedented times we live in and the need to work towards forming a strong government to bring the country out the other side of the crisis, he said.
All parties and Independents have an obligation to form a government because that is the point of an election, he added.
It comes as the Green Parliamentary Party is set to make its initial assessment of the joint policy document on government formation, which was signed-off by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael last night.
The Green Party has 12 TDs, two Senators and two MEPs.
Green TD for Dún Laoghaire Ossian Smyth has said his party will give the document “due consideration”, and a response would be coming “very shortly” after that. 
However, it may not be a binary yes-or-no to government talks, as the Greens could seek additional information about the details or financing of the plan. 
The Social Democrats have said their parliamentary party probably will not consider the document in detail until Friday, whereas the Labour Party has not decided on a date just yet. 
Meanwhile, the Dáil will reconvene at Leinster House at 2pm with the opposition parties posing questions about the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. 
Once again TDs will not be in position to elect a taoiseach almost ten weeks on from the general election.
Last night the TDs, Senators and MEPs in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael gave their backing to the document the parties hope will entice others to join them in a coalition government.
Some concern was expressed at both party meetings about how the pledges in the document would be funded.
There were also worries around what such a government would mean for the identity of each party in the long term.
At the Fine Gael meeting, Michael Ring expressed his opposition to a coalition with Fianna Fáil while Michael Creed was described as voicing concern about the move. 
Party leader Leo Varadkar told the three-hour meeting that Fine Gael would make every effort to form a strong, majority government which will last five years.
Speaking after his party’s meeting, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the joint document allowed for a State-led approach to improving the lives of citizens.
This morning Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the framework document is basically “a wish list of vague promises” that contains no specifics but plenty of spin.
He said it contains just one specific – how many trees that will be planted over the next 20 years.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Doherty said the document does not tell us how many hospital beds will be re-opened or how many houses will be built and if Sinn Féin were to produce a document like this, they would be “laughed out of it” by other parties and the media.
He said there is a huge lack of ambition in some areas, such as childcare and affordable housing.
Sinn Féin wants to be in government and will talk to all and any interested parties and independents, he said.
But, he added, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are “hell bent on maintaining power at all costs” and the numbers are not there for Sinn Féin because these two parties have decided to exclude them.
Mr Doherty also said that party leader Mary Lou McDonald was very ill for some time with Covid-19 but is doing much better now and expects to be back at work next Monday.
He said that she is no longer infectious from Covid-19 but is recovering from a secondary illness, pleurisy in her lung.
Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Haydon said going into coalition with Fianna Fail would not be the party’s first choice, but that the party said, ahead of the election, that it would consider the move as a last resort.
Speaking on the same programme, Mr Haydon said other parties and groupings have failed to make any progress or produce any documents and Fine Gael will do the right thing by putting the country first. 
He said Fine Gael was a large political party and not everyone shares the same view, however even those who expressed concerns about the move said it was the right thing to do.
Mr Haydon said the framework document is not a programme for government, but starting point to facilitate negotiations with smaller parties and independents in order to develop a government that can renew and rebuild Ireland, after the Covid-19 emergency. 
He added that Fine Gael has a good track record leading a recovery and getting people back to work, which will be crucial in the coming years.
He said there are plenty of specifics in the document – such as protecting core welfare rates and a commitment not to increase income tax in the next Dáil term.
Additional reporting Paul Cunningham and Mícheál Lehane