Saturday 20 January 2018

Sinn Féin says it has no mandate to stop 'nightmare' coalition

Gerry Adams: speculation that he may step down as leader. Photo: Tom Burke
Gerry Adams: speculation that he may step down as leader. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Sinn Féin has ruled itself out of trying to form a government, despite Mary Lou McDonald's claim that a grand coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would be "the stuff of nightmares".

The party won 23 seats in the General Election but now says it would be "a nightmare scenario" if it entered talks with either of the two biggest parties.

Newly elected TD for Waterford David Cullinane said there was "no good reason" why Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil won't work together and his own party, Sinn Féin, didn't have a mandate to try prevent that.

He said he did not believe the two parties would deliver a fairer society, but insisted: "We don't have the numbers to form a government."

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall accused Sinn Féin of "opting out" from trying to solve the impasse currently paralysing Irish politics.

Speaking on RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics', she said: "There are three big blocks there.

"There is Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. There is an onus on them to work together to put in place a government that will stand the test of time, that will last at least a few years.

"Sinn Féin, to a large extent, are opting out of this."

Ms Shortall added that her party was willing to talk to everybody, but would need a series of guarantees on political reform before giving its support.

Mr Cullinan said Sinn Féin had fought the election on "radically different policies to both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael".

"We gave people a promise that we would not prop up Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael because we don't believe they would provide a fairer society," he said.

"The two parties with the biggest number of seats and the two parties who are most compatible in terms of policy, in terms of what was put forward during the election campaign and generally, are Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael."

Mr Cullinane added: "A nightmare scenario for the people, for Sinn Féin, would be, 'here we go again, a party that breaks its mandate'."

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he could see "a lot of commonalities between the Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin positions".

He argued that Gerry Adams "wanted a government that got rid of the property tax and water charges and invested in local services and Fianna Fáil is exactly in that policy space".

Meanwhile, there are fresh questions about the future of Mr Adams's position as president of Sinn Féin.

Speculation has been mounting for some time that he will step aside and this is now being fuelled by the widespread belief that he damaged the party's election performance.

Over the weekend, it was suggested that he may hand over the party leadership to the next generation within 18 months.

However, the party's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald denied that there was any truth to the rumours.

"Gerry hasn't made any such statement about stepping down. It's a non-story," she said.

Irish Independent

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