SF may join coali­tion as ju­nior part­ner

Irish Examiner - - News - Juno McEn­roe Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

Sinn Féin are set to pave the way for pos­si­ble coali­tion op­tions as a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment part­ner af­ter the next gen­eral elec­tion.

A vote on the is­sue will be held this week­end where party pres­i­dent Gerry Adams also looks set to in­di­cate when and how he will step aside as leader.

Hous­ing, the health sys­tem, abor­tion, Brexit, and the North will be among the is­sues that will dom­i­nate the Dublin con­fer­ence.

A special mo­tion tabled on be­ing in gov­ern­ment by the Ard Chomhairle, Sinn Féin’s ex­ec­u­tive board, says any de­ci­sion on the party en­ter­ing into power would be made by a special Ard Fheis. Cru­cially, it says this would be based on the party’s abil­ity to se­cure a “progressive, Repub­li­can pro­gramme for gov­ern­ment”. Asked if this is a shift in pol­icy and that, if passed as is likely the case with an Ard Chomhairle mo­tion, this could al­low Sinn Féin join in a coali­tion as a ju­nior part­ner, fi­nance spokesman Pearse Do­herty said the party wants to be in gov­ern­ment both north and south. He said this would be a change to the cur­rent po­si­tion if passed.

He also con­firmed that the change would mean there would be “no pre­con­di­tion” for Sinn Féin to be the larger or mi­nor­ity part­ner in gov­ern­ment.

Mr Do­herty also con­firmed that Mr Adams will make a sig­nif­i­cant speech on the Satur­day night, which is ex­pected to sig­nal when or how he will step aside as leader.

In an news­pa­per in­ter­view last week­end, Mr Adams said he had made agree­ment with the late Martin McGuin­ness about how the lead­er­ship of Sinn Féin would be handed over to the next gen­er­a­tion. This de­tail is ex­pected to fea­ture in his live tele­vised speech, Mr Do­herty told re­porters yes­ter­day.

Else­where, the party will also de­bate hous­ing and health ser­vice mo­tions, is­sues which he says are cen­tral to the party’s de­sire to make im­prove­ments in — if it is to en­ter gov­ern­ment.

Next year’s mooted ref­er­en­dum on the Eighth Amend­ment will also be de­bated at the Ard Fheis. An­other Ard Chomhairle mo­tion says that the party sup­ports re­peal­ing the Eighth Amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion in cases where the mother’s health is at risk and in cases of rape or fa­tal foetal ab­nor­mal­ity. There will also be a mo­tion for a free vote for TDs and sen­a­tors. How­ever, this is un­likely to be agreed by mem­bers at the Ard Fheis with­out the back­ing of the lead­er­ship.

Mr Do­herty re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day that the party dis­agrees with com­ments by Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín over the week­end. Mr Tóibin had crit­i­cised the make-up of an Oireach­tas com­mit­tee ex­am­in­ing is­sues around the abor­tion ref­er­en­dum. Eight mo­tions on the Eighth Amend­ment and abor­tion will be de­bated dur­ing the con­fer­ence. Sinn Féin’s TDs and sen­a­tors are ex­pected to dis­cuss Mr Tóibín’s po­si­tion today.

Mean­while, Mr Do­herty said there is no cul­ture of bul­ly­ing in Sinn Féin and that some coun­cil­lors had walked away but oth­ers had been ex­pelled by the party.

The party are ex­pect­ing more than 3,000 mem­bers to at­tend this week­end’s special con­fer­ence in the RDS.

There is also likely to be a special re­mem­brance of Mr Mc Guin­ness, who passed away af­ter an ill­ness ear­lier this year.

Pic­ture: Mark Mar­low/PA

Sinn Féin’s Conor Mur­phy, Michelle O’Neill, Gerry Adams, and Carál Ní Chuilín dur­ing a re­cent press con­fer­ence.

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