Saturday 20 January 2018

'This is about policies not personalities' - Social Democrats refuse to rule out any partners in coalition deal

But Social Democrats very coy about coalition preferences

Catherine Murphy TD , Stephen Donnelly TD & Roisin Shortall TD
Catherine Murphy TD , Stephen Donnelly TD & Roisin Shortall TD
John Downing

John Downing

THE general election is “wide open” and any coalition combination could emerge from the vote on Friday week.

That is the view of Social Democrat joint leader and former Junior Health Minister Roisin Shortall.

Ms Shortall was outlining the fledgling party’s health plans which urge a phased building of the British-style National Health Service (NHS) giving free at point of delivery health care to all citizens.

The party’s plan is to save money up to €100m per year on drugs – and ease the burden on hospitals by more efficient community care services.

Ms Shortall said a patient with chronic diabetes would cost €150 to be treated at a hospital clinic. This compared with €50 at a local GP or €20 for a practice nurse.

Read More: Labour admits it would 'do business' with the Soc Dems

The party will be urging all political parties to sign up to 10 principles on framing a new national health service. She said cross-party support allowed Britain develop their NHS after World War II and it was time to take party politics out of health in Ireland.

Asked about coalition options, after the election on February 26, Ms Shortall agreed that a mosaic coalition involving diverse parties and groups was a possibility. This happened in 1948 when the first Inter-Party Government was formed.

“This election is wide open – that is what I would say. Anything is possible,” Ms Shortall said.

But she refused to say how her party would respond to overtures from her old colleagues in Labour. Or, whether ideological differences could be bridged with Lucinda Creighton’s Renua Ireland.

“This is about policies not personalities,” she said.

The former Labour Party stalwart said the new party, launched last July, got a boost from a great performance by fellow joint leader, Stephen Donnelly.  But she said there was no plan to change the system of sharing the leadership between those two and their third TD, Catherine Murphy.

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