Sunday 23 October 2016

FF would work with FG, but only as bigger party, says Nial Collins

Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail's Niall Collins Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail's Niall Collins Photo: Tom Burke

Fianna Fáil would be able to work in a coalition with Fine Gael - so long as it was the bigger of the two parties, its justice spokesman has said.

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Niall Collins has firmly opened the door to the end of civil-war politics, but said it must be on his party's terms, with Fianna Fáil the senior partner.

He argued that his party had always acted in the national interest and would do so again.

"We could have cut and run before the last election and saved a lot of seats in the interest of the party but we didn't, we acted in the interest of the country," he said.

Mr Collins said his party was "emphatic" when it said it would not be a junior coalition partner for Fine Gael - although this didn't totally rule out a minority government situation.

"If something is in the national interest, if it's in the public interest, if it's fair, if it's proportionate, if it's merited, we'll support it, of course.

"But there won't be any arrangement whatsoever in relation to propping up Enda Kenny or a Fine Gael government. Absolutely no way.

"Under no circumstances are we going in as one leg on a three-legged stool for Fine Gael or anybody else."

However, asked if Fianna Fail could do business with Mr Kenny if Fianna Fáil was to win the most seats in the election, the Limerick TD was far more open-minded.

Based on current opinion poll figures that scenario is extremely unlikely, but Mr Collins said his party was running 71 candidates and "absolutely aims to be the biggest party" in the next Dáil.

"If we're the biggest party and they want to come in and prop us up, that's a different kettle of fish. I wouldn't have a problem with it," he said.

Mr Collins denied that was an indication that Fianna Fáil's real concern was getting the most cabinet positions, rather than the national interest.


He said: "Fine Gael stands for the richest and wealthiest in society. Their budgets have impacted disproportionately on those who can least afford to pay."

Earlier this week, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said there was no way that a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition could be formed after the election.

But on Monday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin failed to definitively rule out his party supporting a minority government.

"I'm not going down that route now," he said.

Irish Independent

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