Saturday 21 April 2018

Adams cast as 'alternative Taoiseach' for anti-water lobby

An anti-water charges protest in the capital at the weekend. Photo: Frank McGrath
An anti-water charges protest in the capital at the weekend. Photo: Frank McGrath
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Sinn Féin is casting Gerry Adams as the next Taoiseach in a coalition to be headed up by members of the anti-water charges movement.

The party has adopted a clear strategy just days before polling which centres upon the portrayal of Mr Adams as the figurehead of an alternative government.

Party strategists believe the overall number of seats won by Sinn Féin and so-called 'Right2Change' candidates will provide Mr Adams with the "authority" to pitch himself as an alternative Taoiseach to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

The party also believes joining forces with the protest movement will manoeuvre Mr Adams ahead of Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as another option for leader.

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty confirmed a vote for Sinn Féin was a vote for Mr Adams as Taoiseach.

Mr Doherty firmly rejected suggestions Mr Adams would not be the party's nominee for Taoiseach and would be their choice: "Of course, he would."

He said Sinn Féin was offering a "real alternative as part of the 'Right2Change' platform".

"If the people decide, then Gerry will be Taoiseach."

And, in a further illustration of Sinn Féin's bid to get into power, Mr Adams said his party would "zero in" on disillusioned voters before polling day.

"The strategy objective is to get as many people as possible to come out and vote for our party and then to transfer to the other 'Right2Change' candidates," he said.

"What we need to do is try, if we can, and zero in on that tranche of the voters who are disconnected and alienated from the political system," Mr Adams added.

The party has also drafted in the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness for the final days of campaigning in an attempt to build momentum as polling days nears.

Mr McGuinness yesterday told a Sinn Féin strategy meeting that this week's vote was "the most important since Partition".

And major energy will be ploughed into the party's social-media campaign, in a bid to mobilise the party's working-class support.

The decision by Sinn Féin to unite with groups opposed to water charges could also result in them forming a bigger block than Fianna Fáil.

Any such scenario could have a seismic impact on post General Election negotiations if Fine Gael and the Labour Party fail to form a coalition.

There are now 106 candidates running under the 'Right2Change' movement, which claims to have brought out up to 80,000 people on to the streets of Dublin on Saturday for an anti-water charges demonstration.

If the combined seats of Sinn Féin and the anti-water movement outweigh those of Fianna Fáil, Mr Adams will immediately declare himself as the alternative Taoiseach.

At a campaign event in Dublin city yesterday, Mr Adams and the party's deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said they would be focusing on building a coalition involving 'Right2Change'.

"We want to be in government in the South. We are asking people to give us a mandate," Mr Adams said.

"On all of the issues, a Sinn Féin contingent government will be good for the people of the entire island," he added.

Ms McDonald said central to the strategy would be 'Right2Change' candidates transferring to each other.

"Sometimes, the criticism of parties of the left, and Sinn Féin in particular, is that we were simply a party of protest. If that was a perception, I think that is now gone.

"We want to be in government, be under no illusion, we are not playing games."

Irish Independent

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