SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she wants to attempt to become Taoiseach leading a left-wing government without Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.
Ms McDonald has already spoken with the Green Party, Social Democrats and Solidarity-People Before Profit about forming a government without either Leo Varadkar or Micheál Martin’s party.
Ms McDonald said the election result was a “a big statement of change” and that it is no longer a two-party system. She said her first priority was to attempt to deliver a new government without the involvement of the civil war parties.
"We have been in touch with the Greens, Social Democrats, People Before Profit and others. I said throughout the campaign, and I meant it, we need change, we need a new government, the best outcome is a government without Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. So that’s the first thing I want to test, whether or not that is possible,” she said.
“I also have consistently said that I will talk to and listen to everybody. I think that’s what grown ups do. I think that’s what democracy demands.”
Ms McDonald was speaking as she arrived at the RDS count centre in Dublin where she will be re-elected to the Dáil on the first count in Dublin Central. She said the party could have fielded more candidates but that "hindsight is a great thing”.
She hit out at Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael saying she does not accept “the exclusion or talk of excluding our party that represents now almost a quarter of the electorate”.
She said this would be “fundamentally undemocratic”.
“I do not think that it is a sustainable position for Micheál Martin or Leo Varadkar to say that they will not speak to us representatives of such a sizable section of the Irish electorate," Ms McDonald said.
She said a vote for Sinn Féin was not a protest vote. She said it was an election that is “historic in proportion, this is changing the shape and the mould of Irish politics".
She added: “This is not a transient thing, this is just the beginning.”
Asked by Independent.ie if she could be leading a left-wing government and be Taoiseach, she responded: "Yes" and added: "Let’s see how the numbers stack up.”
All of the seats have been filled - but there are still many twists to come as the fallout from the General Election ensues. Follow us live on Independent.ie for all the latest updates.