DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland could have a government in place by next week, a senior minister from acting prime minister Enda Kenny's party said on Friday after it made some progress towards breaking a prolonged political deadlock.
Kenny failed for the third time to be re-elected in a vote in parliament on Thursday but removed one stumbling block when his party's nearest rival, Fianna Fail, abandoned hopes of forming a minority administration of its own.
Kenny still has two more hurdles to clear to form a minority government that analysts fear could be unstable and short-lived: gain the support of at least 6 more deputies outside his Fine Gael party and Fianna Fail's consent to abstain in key votes.
"We need to get on with it, we need to work out what Fianna Fail need in order to do that," Fine Gael minister Simon Coveney told national broadcaster RTE. "If both sides approach it with a view to try to find a way of compromising, then we can have a government by the middle of next week. That's the plan."
The parties will resume talks on government parameters later on Friday. The pool of 14 independent lawmakers from whom Kenny is seeking to win the required additional support have demanded a detailed plan is agreed before they make up their minds.
The independents also laid down a new demand on Thursday, saying any deal would have to last long enough to implement at least three annual budgets. Coveney said such an arrangement "would certainly be helpful."
He also appealed again to other smaller parties to join the proposed new government, including the two-person Green Party, which left negotiations last month, and outgoing junior coalition partner Labour, which suffered huge losses at the Feb. 26 election.
"Fine Gael is inviting any party that wants to talk to us from a policy perspective or in facilitating a minority government. The broader the base for government, the better and more stable it will be as far as I'm concerned," Coveney said.
"There is no point in having a minority government unless it can function and get things done. We need to make sure we have a government that doesn't simply last for five weeks or five months but has a chance of lasting three or four years."
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by