Fianna Fail 'ready to step up' into coalition with Fine Gael to tackle Covid-19

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By Aine McMahon PA

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said his party are ready to "step up" and form a government with Fine Gael in order to tackle the coronvirus pandemic.

Mr Martin said government formation talks needed to be expedited to deal with the "big decisions" the country faces.

There are now 129 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland, after the Department of Health announced 39 new cases on Sunday following the news of a second coronavirus-related death on Saturday.

More than a month since polling day, progress on forming a government in the Republic has been slow and there is growing public pressure for an administration to be formed to deal with the fallout from the pandemic.

Fianna Fail has 38 seats in the Dail, with Sinn Fein on 37 and Fine Gael with 35 - leaving them all short of the 80 needed to form an outright majority.

Speaking to Newstalk FM on Sunday, Mr Martin said: "I am up for it, at moments such as this you have to step up to the plate and make sure a government with a majority is formed."

"My own view is that it needs to be expedited. The economic consequences of this, the big decisions that simply have to be taken, need a full government with all ministers accountable to the Dail."

Mr Martin said his most urgent concern is ensuring there is a government in place to agree how to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak.

"In terms of large amounts of money that are going to be spent, and co-ordinating a national action plan in dealing with the virus, that is needed, because this is going to be with us for quite some time."

"We need a government that knows it will be there for some time, not just for three months, for six months, but a government which knows it will be there for four or five years."

Fewer TDs than usual will attend this week's sitting of the Dail in order to pass emergency legislation for coronavirus measures.

Around 48 TDs - a third of the total number - are due to attend the session on Thursday, due to social distancing measures.

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