Sunday 21 January 2018

Labour leader says Fine Gael-Sinn Féin coalition 'is quite likely'

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin
John Downing

John Downing

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he finds it easier to envisage a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin coalition after the next election - than a Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin sharing of government.

The former Public Expenditure Minister was unveiling his party’s alternative Budget which rules out income tax cuts.

He said tackling tax loopholes, a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion, a sugar tax, dearer tobacco, and a higher carbon tax, could raise an extra €1bn next year to improve health, housing and other services while also promoting more fairness.

Mr Howlin said the preparation for next Tuesday’s Budget had degenerated into a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil “phoney war” over whether tax cuts should amount to €2 per week or €4 per week. This was pointless and money should focus on improved services.

Asked about his views on the shape of the next Coalition, he insisted that you could not rule out any party doing business with any other party.  But he said recent surveys suggested a Fine Gael-Féin Coalition was more likely than Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin.

“I’ve heard Micheál Martin rule it out with more conviction than Leo Varadkar has,” Mr Howlin said.

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