Image copyright Green Party Image caption Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will seek a meeting with the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael leadership

Green Party TDs (members of the Irish Parliament) have voted in favour of going into government formation talks.

In a statement, the party said it had decided to enter formal talks with Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

"We are conscious of the huge challenges facing any government in the Covid-19 crisis," the statement said.

Twelve weeks after the Irish general election, formal government negotiations have yet to begin.

However the Green Party, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael combined would have enough seats to form a majority.

The Green Party said it would work with the other two parties "to develop a deal that respects our mandate with a view to presenting that agreement to members for approval".

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It said approval of any programme for government would require the support of two-thirds of its voting membership.

"Any proposal must be transformative on climate action and commit to strong progress towards a more sustainable and fairer society," it said, adding that otherwise, representatives would "withdraw from negotiations and pursue their mandate in opposition".

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will now seek a meeting with the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael leaderships to start the process.

The Green Party won 12 seats in February's general election, while Fine Gael won 35 and Fianna Fáil returned 38 TDs, one of whom was the outgoing ceann comhairle (speaker) and who has since returned to that post.

The party's 12 TDs, two senators and two MEPs held four separate meetings to evaluate documentation from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on what going into coalition government might mean in policy terms.

The negotiating process is likely to take weeks to complete.

Responding to the news, Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of "working to a plan to exclude Sinn Féin from government and to ignore our mandate for some time".

His part won the highest share of the first preference vote and 37 seats.