Labour / Fine Gael Talks Begin

Labour's Eamon Gilmore and Fine Gael's Taoiseach Elect Enda Kenny are to meet today to discuss the terms for a possible coalition.

Labour's Eamon Gilmore announced his negotiating team regarding the possible "Programme for Government".

Mr Gilmore firstly named Deputy Brendan Howlin, Labour's spokesperson on constitutional matters and law reform, who was Minister for Health from 1993 to 1994 the Environment from 1994 to 1997.

He will be joined by high profile deputy Joan Burton who is deputy leader of the Labour Party and their spokesperson on finance. Joan Burton is a TD for Dublin West and has previously been Minister of State for Social Welfare; Minister of State for Justice and Minister for Overseas Development.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte is also joining the negotiating team. Pat is a TD for Dublin South West and is a former Leader of the Labour Party. In the Rainbow Government he served as Minister of State to the Government and Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for Commerce, Science and Technology.

Dr Colm O’Reardon is the final member of Labour's team. A policy director for the Labour Party, he is a Rhodes scholar and previously worked with the ESRI. He holds a PhD in economics from Oxford University.

Facing off against Gilmore's formidable squad will be Enda Kenny's top negotiators, being led by Deputy Michael Noonan, who is Fine Gael's spokesperson on finance. He served as leader of the Fine Gael party from February 2001 to June 2002 and will be leading a team consisting of the party's spokesperson for Environment Phil Hogan and their outspoken spokesperson on Justice, Alan Shatter.

Mr Kenny also revealed on Tuesday that he had met with the Labour Party Leader the night before. Both leaders are to meet again early on Tuesday in Leinster House.

It's understood the talks will take some intense negotiation as the policies of Fine Gael and the Labour party are often poles apart.

Labour will also be mindful of the political dangers that befell the British Liberal Democrats after their recent coalition agreement with the Conservative party that has led to a nose dive in their popularity.


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