April 27, 2016 / 8:12 AM / 2 years ago

Irish parties make progress in government talks: minister

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s two main parties have made great progress in talks on forming a minority government, including the outlines of a deal to suspend unpopular water charges, a senior minister said on Wednesday.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny laughs with opposition party leader Micheal Martin of Fianna Fail after the 1916 Arbour Hill Commemoration ceremony and requiem mass at the grave of the 14 leaders involved in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Ireland joined Spain and a growing list of other euro zone countries with splintered parliaments when voters on Feb. 26 ousted prime minister Enda Kenny’s coalition government but failed to pick a clear alternative.

Under the proposed deal Kenny’s Fine Gael party would lead a minority government supported by independent deputies and enabled by rival Fianna Fail, which would agree to abstain on key parliamentary votes.

“Great progress has been made but this deal has to be completed,” senior Fine Gael member and acting enterprise minister Richard Bruton told state broadcaster RTE when asked about talks with Fianna Fail.

The proposed deal would involve the temporary suspension of water charges, which triggered protests and were a major issue in the election, he said. A committee of experts would report to parliament on whether to reintroduce the charges, he said.

“Charges will be suspended for a time-defined period, while this work goes on and then the Dail (parliament) will have to decide,” Bruton said.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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