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Hard to know who to believe when it comes to coalition choices

Philip Ryan


Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during the leaders' debate on RTÉ

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during the leaders' debate on RTÉ

Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during the leaders' debate on RTÉ

It is becoming increasingly difficult to figure out who is telling the truth. Who can you trust with your vote next weekend? It is very reasonable to wonder what happens after the election once you exercise your democratic right.

For instance, you may be ideologically opposed to Sinn Féin and be petrified of what its anti-business policies will mean for you and your children.

But you have no way of knowing if a vote for Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil will result in either party forming a government with Sinn Féin. You are being asked to make a significant leap of faith and do the unthinkable - believe what a politician says.

Leo Varadkar decided to stoke things up in the closing half of the Virgin Media election debate on Thursday, by naming Fianna Fáil TDs who previously suggested they would have no problem entering into government with Sinn Féin.

There is quite a long list of Fianna Fail TDs who said they would, and if Micheál Martin decided to cosy up to Mary Lou McDonald he would not find a huge amount of resistance within his party. Now Mr Martin insists he would never do this, so you can take his word for it if you like. But back to Fine Gael: it's not that long ago that Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty was making front page news after proclaiming that there were some "fabulous" people in Sinn Féin who she would be happy to work with.

High-profile Fine Gael backbencher Kate O'Connell also said a coalition with Sinn Féin is a possibility. Outgoing Fine Gael Minister Jim Daly said he had no ideological problem with the one-time political face of the Provisional IRA.

Even former Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced to issue a statement distancing himself from Sinn Féin after he spent an entire press conference refusing to rule out going into coalition with Gerry Adams. It was all very weird.

Anyway, it is fair to say there are people in Fine Gael who would be willing to share a cabinet table with Sinn Féin if it meant staying in power, as there are in Fianna Fáil. Faced with five years on the opposition benches, politicians are liable to make all sorts of decisions. So who to trust?

Here's another quote on coalitions: "A so-called grand coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil would be a forced marriage with Sinn Féin holding the shotgun."

The writer goes on: "It won't be a real coalition. It won't be grand. It won't last. And it won't protect the Irish people."

And finally: "The dream of a grand coalition would actually be a nightmare. It is why it cannot happen."

The author was none other than Leo Varadkar, in an article published in this very newspaper the day before the 2016 General Election. The same Leo Varadkar who has spent most of this election campaign seeking to convince Mr Martin to consider forming a coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil after the votes are counted.

Irish Independent