Martin McGuinness: Sinn Féin will lead the opposition against the eventual Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition
SINN Fein's Martin McGuinness said his party expect to lead the Opposition in the 32nd Dail as he predicts that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail would come to some arrangement over the next Government.
The Sinn Fein official said, given their performance in General Election 2016, he expects his party to enter Government either in the next or second next election.
The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister was speaking as he toured Cork constituencies to congratulate Sinn Fein candidates who are poised to make major breakthroughs.
The party could win three seats in Cork as they are posed to more than double their seat total nationally.
"I think Fine Gael have paid for their arrogance with the Irish people," he said.
He said the Labour Party had been "decimated and destroyed" and acknowledged that there is a lesson to be learned by Sinn Fein.
"We will only go into Government if we are the largest party. That is clearly not going to happen so I believe Sinn Fein will become the leaders of the Opposition."He said he expected both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to now reach some "arrangement" about the formation of the next Government.
"Will it be some form of Coalition or will Fianna Fail support some form of minority Fine Gael Government? It remains to be seen but I think that is now quite likely."
"Sinn Fein will be the lead Opposition party and we will also be a party that is very keen to mobilise the parties of the left."
"We need to have a conversation with people who represent small, left wing parties. We need to recognise that opportunity that is there."
"We need to form a very credible, left-of-centre Opposition. We will take power at the next election."
"Our position is already clear - we will only go into Coalition if we are the larger party. It looks at this stage as if that is not going to be the case."
"But we are having a very good election and I am delighted with the performance of our candidates."
He said, despite the denials within Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, he expressed belief that some kind of deal was in prospect given the likely seat breakdown in the Dail."
At this stage, I believe there will be some form of arrangement between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. That's my sense of what is inprospect. You would basically have two right wing parties in Government and a continuation of the austerity agenda."
"I would be very fearful for the people of Ireland at that prospect," he warned