Options to form government narrowing
Martin tells McDonald he stands by his decision not to discuss coalition with SF Ó Broin acknowledges plan for a left-wing coalition government not a viable option
The options for government formation narrowed yesterday as Sinn Féin acknowledged that its plan for a left-wing coalition without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael would fail.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during a phone call that he would not reconsider his refusal to discuss coalition with her.
Ms McDonald fiercely criticised Mr Martin for excluding her party from what she called the “old boys club”, while long-serving Fianna Fáil backbencher Éamon Ó Cuív warned any proposals to form a coalition involving Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would split his party.
Meanwhile, left-wing representatives criticised Sinn Féin for giving up on the plan to lead a coalition of the left, but the party’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin admitted that the numbers in the Dáil to make that option a reality were not available.
Mr Martin strongly reiterated his position not to enter coalition with Sinn Féin in a phone conversation with Ms McDonald, during which she conveyed her party’s anger at his refusal to consider the proposal.
Both leaders had their first substantive conversation following the election in the 15-minute phone call on Wednesday.
Mr Martin outlined why his party would not go into coalition with Sinn Féin, setting out as reasons economic incompatibility, as well as Fianna Fáil’s doubts over the other party’s democratic credentials.
Voted for change
For her part, Ms McDonald told Mr Martin that people who voted for change were furious because they believed their wishes were not being respected.
“I told Micheál Martin that people who voted for Sinn Féin and those who voted more widely for change are angry that Fianna Fáil is denying them the respect of sitting down with the party that represents them,” she said. Referring to widespread assumptions Fianna Fáil will pursue a coalition with Fine Gael, she said of voters who backed Sinn Féin: “They did not vote for a Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael grand coalition.
In fact that is precisely what they voted against last week.”
During the call, Mr Martin told Ms McDonald his party had a mandate and it was its prerogative and duty to try to form a government . He argued no one grouping in the Dáil could force another grouping to form a government when there were such incompatible views on economic policy and other issues.
Earlier, Mr Ó Broin said a left-leaning coalition led by Sinn Féin and comprised of left-wing parties and individuals was not possible, as there were not sufficient numbers.
This was received as a change in negotiating strategy for Sinn Féin and an indication the party would focus its attention on persuading Fianna Fáil to begin bilateral negotiations.
While Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party backed Mr Martin’s stance on Sinn Féin, Galway
West TD Mr Ó Cuív said yesterday he was “totally opposed” to a coalition with Fine Gael and the Greens.
A meeting of the Galway West Fianna Fáil executive has been called on Monday to discuss the proposal, which Mr Ó Cuív has said could split the party.
Neither the Social Democrats nor the Greens have stated any public view as yet on the government formation talks.