Thursday 12 December 2019

Flanagan warns Cabinet to beware SF/FF coalition

Charles Flanagan, Fine Gael deputy for Laois-Offaly at Leinster House. Picture: Tom Burke
Charles Flanagan, Fine Gael deputy for Laois-Offaly at Leinster House. Picture: Tom Burke

John Drennan, Political Editor

Fine Gael chairman Charles Flanagan last night revealed there was growing concern in the party that complacency in the Cabinet could create a scenario where a Fianna Fail/Sinn alliance would be "a viable coalition option''.

Mr Flanagan was speaking as today's Sunday Independent/Millward Brown poll reveals a SF/FF alternative, with the support of 42 per cent of the public, is now 7 per cent ahead of the Coalition in the polls.

He warned: "The Government is now in the scenario where we have lost the votes of a fifth of the electorate who voted for us in 2011."

He added this gap means "a Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail coalition is appearing by stealth''.

Mr Flanagan also criticised the attitude of one government minister last year who said there was "no alternative" to the current Coalition.

He added: "I hope that attitude is not shared by his colleagues; there is always an alternative and in this case the alternative is Sinn Fein/Fianna Fail. We need to be careful we are not sleepwalking into such a scenario. There is a Europe-wide drift to extremism; that may occur here, Ireland is not unique. We are not insulated. There is growing and general concern in the backbenches that we cannot take SF for granted'."

Mr Flanagan urged voters to "look closely" at Sinn Fein, adding that "their populism is a recipe for destruction."

But he admitted that Sinn Fein could clean up in the

Poll Analysis Pages 20 and 21

forthcoming local and European elections.

Mr Flanagan told the Sunday Independent: "The Sinn Fein fear factor is being constantly diluted amongst the voters and will be further diluted if a raft of new Sinn Fein councillors are elected in two months' time."

He also warned that the Government must pay more attention to facing down a growing SF by being a more "reforming administration".

"In the first half of its term the Government was dealing with the economic crisis; the second half should have a greater emphasis on reform with particular emphasis on the democratic revolution."

Sunday Independent

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