SF may join coalition as junior partner
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.
Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, Michelle O’Neill, Gerry Adams, and Carál Ní Chuilín during a recent press conference.