'Sinn Féin will defend the change that the people voted for'
A GOVERNMENT led by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil does not represent the change that people voted for, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has claimed.
Ms McDonald set out her stall as the de facto leader of the Opposition as members of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party prepare to decide whether or not to approve the Programme for Government.
Ms McDonald vowed to provide “the most coherent and effective opposition in the history of this State.”
The Sinn Féin leader claimed the agreement was an attempt to deny change, protect the status quo and "to continue with the same broken politics that has so badly failed workers and families."
She argued that the agreement wasn't the only deal possible and insisted the "chance to form a government of change is real".
Ms McDonald said that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin set about to exclude Sinn Féin and "in doing so they excluded the demand for change coming from the people."
She added: "Grassroots members of the Green Party know this. Grassroots members of Fianna Fáil also know this."
Both Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin before the election citing differences in economic policies and the party’s association with the Provisional IRA.
After the election Mr Martin told the Dáil he couldn't go into coalition with Sinn Féin because of its “efforts to legitimise a murderous sectarian campaign”.
Ms McDonald responded at the time saying she “did not care” what he thinks about her party.
Speaking today ahead of a potential Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil/Green government being formed she said "no matter what happens workers and families must not be the ones to shoulder the pain of the economic crisis" and warned: "There can be no return to austerity."
She said people are "impatient for change" and Sinn Féin has the policies to "deliver a fresh start", listing proposals to set the pension age at 65, create a single-tier health service and provide affordable housing.
"We won’t let any government urn their face against these solutions that people so badly need."
She said: "Sinn Féin won’t allow Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to waste the potential, the possibilities and the aspirations of our people.
"There is a better and a fairer way and that means putting people and communities first.
"Sinn Féin will defend the change that the people voted for."
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