Sunday 25 August 2019

Fianna Fáil TDs won't rule out future power deal with Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A rump of Fianna Fáil TDs has refused to rule out a future government arrangement with Sinn Féin, posing a massive headache for leader Micheál Martin.

He has repeatedly rejected the prospect of any deal with Sinn Féin, but a number of Fianna Fáil TDs have not completely ruled out either a coalition or confidence-and-supply arrangement.

It comes as Sinn Féin holds its Ard Fheis in Dublin.

Last night Sinn Féin members voted to confirm that for the first time the party would be open to entering government in the Republic as a junior coalition partner.

Gerry Adams is tonight expected to finally set out a time-line for his eventual departure as leader after more than three decades.

Speaking ahead of the rival party's event, Mr Martin again ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin "irrespective of who is leader".

He said Mr Adams's potential successors, Mary Lou McDonald and Pearse Doherty, had refused "to disassociate themselves from the worst atrocities of the IRA".

However, not all Fianna Fáil TDs ruled out some form of arrangement with Sinn Féin.

"The people have to speak first... It's their wishes we'll have to fulfil after the election and we shouldn't rule anyone out," Carlow-Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said.

He said he didn't see the two party's policies as compatible, and shared concerns about Sinn Féin's history, but said: "We should talk to everyone."

Cork East TD Kevin O'Keeffe said that personally he would "be keeping all options open" due to the need to form a government. Mr O'Keeffe said he wouldn't be pushing for a deal with Sinn Féin and would comply with Fianna Fáil's decision on the matter.

John Downing: It's no, nay, never for the 'big two' before an election, but arithmetic will be kingmaker

Cork North-West TD Aindrias Moynihan said he wouldn't "pre-empt" the results of the next election.

He said the voters would "decide the make-up of the next Dáil and how the government will be made up".

Carlow-Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward said he would rule out a coalition "at the moment" and supported Mr Martin's stance.

But asked about a scenario where Sinn Féin changed its leader and adapted its policies, he replied: "You never say never to anything."

Other TDs didn't rule out a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Sinn Féin in the event of a Fianna Fáil-led minority government.

Kerry TD John Brassil said he'd be "open to whatever mathematical combination would see us in a position to implement our policies". He said he would abide by whatever decisions were made by the party.

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill also didn't rule it out, but said: "We wouldn't be sacrificing our policy objectives for that."

Fianna Fáil TDs who ruled out any form of post-election deal include Darragh O'Brien, Margaret Murphy O'Mahony, John Lahart and Willie O'Dea.

Irish Independent

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