SF votes to keep its options open on coalition
Sinn Fein's grassroots members last night decided that the party will keep its coalition options open heading into the next general election.
But the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis has been overshadowed by the appearance at the High Court in Dublin two days ago of Liam Adams, the brother of the party president, Gerry Adams.
A proposal at the party's annual conference to rule out going into power with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael after the election was defeated at the behest of the Sinn Fein leadership.
After a number of passionate speeches to categorically rule out electoral pacts, Sinn Fein TDs Caoimghin O Caolain and Martin Ferris asked members to back a leadership amendment effectively keeping its options open. The delegates passed a motion by a margin of three to one that the party will "only contemplate entering a coalition government on the basis of a programme for government rooted in republican principles, agreed and approved by a special delegate conference".
"It is the sensible thing to do at this point in time," Mr Ferris said. Dublin delegate Justin Moran said Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were "two parties competing in the race to the bottom".
"Ruling out these two parties does not tie our hands. It frees us," he said. Mr O Caolain said it was up to the membership to decide if they would enter coalition with other parties. "We want the crumbs from no table and the party will be chasing after none of them," he said.
Meanwhile, Liam Adams has vowed to fight his extradition to Northern Ireland on charges of sexually abusing his daughter. He faces a possible life sentence on the charges, which include alleged rape, if convicted.
Gerry Adams will deliver his keynote address to his party today at 8.30pm. The party usually opts for an earlier live TV slot of 5pm, but has changed this time.