Wednesday 20 February 2019

AAA-PBP is ready to vote for Adams as taoiseach

Richard Boyd Barrett at a press conference yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Richard Boyd Barrett at a press conference yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Left-wing allies of Sinn Féin are prepared to "facilitate" the election of Gerry Adams for taoiseach after Friday's General Election.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit (AAA-PBP) has said all the opinion polls signal that it will be a force in the next Dáil and will eclipse Labour. The group, which has three outgoing TDs among its 31 candidates, says it will use its position to ensure that nobody from either Fine Gael, Labour or Fianna Fáil heads the next government.

At a press conference in Dublin, the three outgoing TDs - Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett - and Cllr Bríd Smith very pointedly did not rule out the prospect of backing Mr Adams in a vote for taoiseach. The question was put to them in various forms on several occasions.

The grouping, which amalgamates two left-wing parties, stressed that it would decide who to support in government on the basis of "policies, not personalities" and its longer-term goal remained a majority socialist government.

But it could back "a genuine left-wing government" after this election, provided that such a government committed to rolling back health and other service cutbacks and scrapped water charges, the local property tax and other charges.

AAA TD Paul Murphy said the group could use its position to "facilitate" the election of an "alternative taoiseach".

But he suggested that it was more likely to support any emerging left-wing government, if it was led by Sinn Féin, from outside a coalition, deciding each policy on a case-by-case basis.

PBP TD Richard Boyd Barrett said Sinn Féin might not be the biggest "anti-austerity grouping" to emerge from the election. But the group was prepared to negotiate a left-wing programme with any anti-austerity groups.

He said all opinion polls showed that "Independents and others" were now a major force, bigger than many of the "established parties," and left-wing candidates were a big part of that bloc.

"If you add up all those numbers, it's anybody's guess how it's going to turn out after the election," Mr Boyd Barrett said.

AAA's Paul Murphy said he was elected a TD in October 2014 precisely because Sinn Féin had not committed to boycotting payment of water charges. He said the group continued to have doubts about Sinn Féin and believed it might do a coalition deal with either Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour.

Mr Boyd Barrett said they were fighting the election as socialists and seeking votes for AAA-PBP candidates firstly, with later preferences for other socialist candidates. "We're socialists," he emphasised.

It has also emerged that the grouping could have problems with Sinn Féin over EU policies. It wants a referendum on any EU-US transatlantic trade deal.

Irish Independent

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