Sunday 26 May 2019

FF cannot rule out coalition with Sinn Fein, TDs tell Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin

DANIEL McCONNELL and Niall o'Connor Group Political Correspondents

THREE Fianna Fail front-bench members have contradicted their party leader Micheal Martin by saying they cannot rule out going into government with Sinn Fein after the next general election.

Just three weeks ago, Mr Martin said he could not see the parties entering government together because of "incompatible" policies.

But speaking to the Sunday Independent, three senior Fianna Fail spokespersons said they would be open to such a prospect.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams last night indicated that his party will seek to form a coalition at the next general election. But the Louth TD said such a move would depend on whether Sinn Fein could draw up an agreeable Programme for Government with the other parties.

Mr Adams indicated that his party would be willing to enter into government but that this would hinge on the Property Tax being abolished.

Although reluctant to speak out publicly on the issue at election time, three Fianna Fail front-benchers have privately said the prospect of entering a coalition with Sinn Fein cannot be ignored.

One told the Sunday Independent: "We are hoping to get at least 40 seats next time and at worst aim to be the lead Opposition party. But with a reduced number of Dail seats and if Sinn Fein do well, then we cannot ignore the figures. You don't walk away from government."

A second front-bencher member admitted he would not be entirely comfortable going into government with Sinn Fein, but said he would "stomach" it for power.

He said: "No one really fancies the prospect of another five years in opposition. I would much rather see us in with Labour, as we have worked well in the past, but if it had to be Sinn Fein, then so be it."

The third FF front-bencher said the party should go into power with Sinn Fein, but only if Fianna Fail leads the Government.

"I would not support going in if we were the smaller party. Things are so volatile and the Sinn Fein vote might not materialise to overtake us, but no way would I tolerate being in a Shinner-led government and certainly not one led by Gerry Adams," the senior party figure said.

For his part, Mr Martin has been consistent in insisting a coalition with Sinn Fein will not happen.

He has said previously there is "no compatibility" between the two parties because of their different economic policies. But his former deputy leader, Eamon O Cuiv, has publicly said he would favour such a coalition because of the shared tradition of republicanism.

Also, several Sunday Independent/ MillwardBrown opinion polls in recent months have shown that a Fianna Fail/Sinn Fein coalition was the preferred choice of the electorate.

Sunday Independent

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