Thursday 8 December 2016

Adams suffers blow as SF TDs object to FF coalition

Dublin TD warns Fianna Fáil deal wouldn't be accepted and could be 'death knell' for party Adams stands by decision to leave door open

Niall O'Connor, John Downing and Kevin Doyle

Published 04/12/2015 | 02:30

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams's authority over his party has suffered a serious blow after several prominent TDs moved to distance themselves from the prospect of entering government with Fianna Fáil.

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Mr Adams's surprise decision to open the door to a Sinn Féin/Fianna Fáil coalition this week has caused a deep sense of discomfort among his own politicians.

And the Louth TD again refused to rule out striking a deal with Michéal Martin (pictured), telling the Irish Independent that the make-up of the next government is a "matter for the electorate".

But several Sinn Féin TDs have expressed unease about the idea.

Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis warned such a coalition would potentially represent a "death knell" for his party.

"Personally, I cannot see the membership buying into a coalition with Fianna Fáil. They are the party that oversaw the economic collapse," he said.

The party's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty also expressed opposition to Sinn Féin entering government with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

Cork North Central TD Jonathan O'Brien said the issue of entering government would be decided solely by the party's Ard Fheis. But he added that he believed the chances of a Sinn Féin/Fianna Fáil coalition were "non-existent".

Other members of the party, including Martin Ferris, David Cullinane and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, said they did not believe Fianna Fáil was prepared to sign up to left-wing demands. These include the abolition of water charges and property tax.

But some influential TDs within Sinn Féin, including Padraig MacLochlainn and Peadar Tóibín, appear more open to the idea of such a coalition. Both TDs insisted Fianna Fáil would have to agree to the so-called 'Right2Change' principles.

"If those issues were addressed Fianna Fáil could be the junior partner," said Mr MacLochlainn.

Sinn Féin sources last night insisted that Mr Adams's decision not to rule out doing business with Fianna Fáil stems from his belief that the choice of the electorate cannot be taken for granted. "To do that would be wrong and insulting," said a senior source.

Nonetheless, party figures are privately deeply uneasy.

"I would walk before going into power with Fianna Fáil," said one TD - who admitted that he did not feel in a position to make a public statement.

At several points in the Dáil this week, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil TDs have been accused by the Government of "cosying up".

But in a statement to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Adams denied that this is the case and hit out at this publication over its front page headline on Wednesday.

The headline read: "Sinn Féin cosy up to FF for coalition deal".

Mr Adams said, for the second time this week, that his party will not "do what Labour did … We will not prop up a larger conservative party or implement a conservative programme for government."

"The Independent's front page on Wednesday was misleading as it said that Sinn Féin is cosying up to Fianna Fáil for coalition after the election which is not the case. Our Árd Fheis is very clear on that issue," Mr Adams said.

"Sinn Féin's ambition is to lead an alternative government based on the Right2change principles including the abolition of the property tax, water charges and Irish Water, and in coalition with those who have already signed up to those principles.

"The only basis upon which we will enter government is if we have a mandate from citizens and if our Árd Fheis agrees on the terms," he added.

While desperate to close down the possibility of a deal with Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil is open to working with Labour.

However, at the same time Micheál Martin told a Fianna Fáil meeting in Tullamore on Wednesday night that Joan Burton's party had "betrayed" the country with broken promises.

Speaking at a campaign launch for Barry Cowen, he complained that the "entire debate up to now has been numbers, who is going in with who".

"Too many people are basing their arguments on the polls, as if the polls constitute the election," he said.

Irish Independent

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