Monday 24 July 2017

Talk of coalition with Sinn Féin is damaging to FF, says McGrath

Rejection: Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath
Rejection: Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath

Philip Ryan and Kevin Doyle

Speculation about a coalition with Sinn Féin is “damaging to Fianna Fáil’s interests”, according to FF TD Michael McGrath

“Sinn Féin know that and I suspect that is part of the reason why they are sending mixed messages on the issue,” he added.

Mr McGrath said he could be “absolutely clear” that there would be no coalition between the two parties as it would not be in the interest of the country.

The rejection from the party’s Finance spokesman came as leader Micheál Martin has told his TDs to speak up if they have a problem with his strong stance on Sinn Féin.

Mr Martin was responding to Gerry Adams’s claim that the FF leader’s colleagues are offended by his accusation that Sinn Féin is run like a “Mafia organisation”.

Mr Martin regularly compares Sinn Féin to the Mafia, using allegations of child sex abuse cover-ups and Mr

Adams’s support for convicted tax cheat Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy to enforce his point.

Yesterday, Mr Adams hit back at the Fianna Fáil leader, saying he is personally offended by being associated with a criminal organisation and called on Mr Martin to work more closely with Sinn Féin on national issues. He said Fianna Fáil TDs had even told him they were troubled by Mr Martin’s accusations that Sinn Féin is a Mafia organisation.

“It’s offensive to me as an individual. It’s offensive to the party membership and it’s particularly offensive to those citizens who come out and cast their votes for Sinn Féin,” he said.

“Micheál would be far better off dealing with the politics of the issue (and) joining with us where it is possible on big issues like this water crisis or other matters as opposed to, in the centenary year, involving himself in this type of hyperbole,” he added. Sinn Féin’s Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin also said “ordinary, decent” Fianna Fáil members had complained to him about their party leader’s remarks.

Last night, Mr Martin’s spokeswoman called on TDs who disagree with him to stand

up and discuss the issue.

“If they are offended let them come forward. Mr Martin categorically stands over everything he has said on Sinn Féin,” she said.

The Irish Independent previously revealed at least six Fianna Fáil parliamentary party members are open to the possibility of forming a government with Sinn Féin after the General Election.

TDs John McGuinness, Colm Keaveney, Micheál Kitt, Sean Fleming, John Browne and Senator Mary White all refused to rule out coalition talks with Sinn Féin.

Meanwhile, Mr McGrath unveiled Fianna Fáil’s plan to abolish the 1pc rate of Universal Social Charge (USC) and slash the 3pc rate in the next Budget if elected.

The combination of USC reductions would mean anyone earning over €18,668 would take home an extra €220 over a year.

However, the party will not cut USC on income above €80,000.

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