Sinn Fein's Ard Fheis approves proposal that would allow them to enter government in Republic as junior coalition partner
SINN Féin's Ard Fheis has approved a proposal that will, for the first time, allow the party to enter government in the Republic even in circumstances where it is a junior coalition partner.
It came after a series of senior party figures spoke in support of the motion that any plan to participate in govenrment would be put to a vote at a special party meeting after an election.
Motions that would rule out participation if Sinn Féin was the junior coalition party - or not the largest party in the Dáil - were rejected.
In her keynote address ahead of the vote deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party won't go into government to make up the numbers but deliver a "progressive, Republican programme for government".
She said the party is determined to implement its policies North and South.
Ms McDonald said Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil "shout loudly" that they don't want Sinn Féin in govenment but said it is the "people who will decide when we enter government".
And she said Sinn Féin members would ultimately take the decision on if the party would participate in a government.
Ms McDonald criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Republic of Opportunity programme claiming it is "really a Republic of Opportunists".
She also hit out at Fianna Fáil leader MIcheál Martin's record as a minister in governments prior to 2011 saying he supported austerity Budgets.
She added: "And he talks of an Ireland for all? – well pull the other one, Micheál."
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said a Sinn Féin governnment would build houses, open hospital beds and "build popular support for Irish Unity".
He said he trusts Sinn Féin membership to "do the right thing" and judge any proposal to enter government on its principles.
MEP Matt Carthy that if anyone has any fear of entering government as a minority party "there's a way of stopping it".
"Let's make this the largest party in this State".