Reports: Kenny to offer Fitzmaurice Ministry for Agriculture for Government support

Latest speculation over the formation of the next Government has put well-known Roscommon/Galway Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s name to the fore for the position of Minister for Agriculture.

According to reports today, Fitzmaurice could be offered the position in a deal to support a possible Fine Gael-led minority government.

However, Fitzmaurice has rubbished the claims, describing them as “total waffle”.

Speaking to Agriland, Fitzmaurice said he had met with the current caretaker Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney recently in Athlone to discuss a number of issues.

He said he and a number of other members of the Independent Alliance, including Boxer Moran and Sean Canney, had met with Coveney. However, he said he has also met with Fianna Fail in recent days and Fianna Fail had sent them a document outlining their plans. Fitzmaurice said he expected a similar document from Fine Gael in the coming days and both documents would have to be assessed.

However, he also said that the Independent Alliance had not decided yet whether it would take Government positions as part of any deal.

The past week has seen negotiations between both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael and smaller parties and independents intensify.

The Sunday Independent reports that An Taoiseach Enda Kenny is understood to be prepared to appoint Fitzmaurice as Minister for Agriculture in return for support for a Fine Gael Government led by him.

Fitzmaurice has been one the most vocal opposition TDs on agriculture and rural issues since his election to the Dail in 2014.

A farmer himself, the Galway native has been heavily critical of the performance of the current Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney and the Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, it is also reported by the Sunday Independent that Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae is also being ‘strongly tipped’ to take a seat at Cabinet as Minister for Rural Affairs.

With high profile members of Fianna Fail continuing to oppose any support for a Fine Gael-led government some form of deal involving small parties and independents looks most likely to succeed at present.

However, it is unlikely that even with the support of a significant number of small parties and independent TDs either Fine Gael or Fianna Fail will command the support of the majority of TD’s in the Dail.

On April 6, the Dail resumes and once again TDs will vote on a Taoiseach and the formation of a Government. Should neither Enda Kenny nor Micheal Martin get the backing of a majority in the Dail, the President Michael D Higgins must then decide whether to give the parties more time or whether to dissolve the Dail again and call another General Election.