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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
hedging his bets

Enda Kenny refuses to rule out coalition with Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil

The Taoiseach said Sinn Féin has emerged from the local and European elections as “a significant political entity”. He made the comments in Castlebar this afternoon, where he narrowly avoided a group of protestors.

Source: ÓrlaRyan/

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY refused to rule out a coalition with Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil after the 2016 General Election.

Kenny said Fine Gael has had “alliances” with both opposition parties at council level in the past, adding that it has also “relied on other parties in the Dáil” on numerous occasions.

Who knows what the future holds in politics? People here are masters in the democratic situation – they make the decisions. We’ll wait and see what result there comes [in the General Election].

“For our part, we will continue the programme for government we have agreed and set out … to rectify the economy and get jobs for our people.”

Kenny said he would speak to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore about the government’s performance in the European and local election later today.

He made the comments while attending the election count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo this afternoon.

“Clearly, across the country, people have given a very resounding decision here,” he said, adding that it’s “not unusual” for the public to express their annoyance with a government during a mid-term election.

‘A Humdinger’

He described yesterday as a “a good day” for independent candidates and Sinn Féin, but warned: “with success comes responsibility”, particularly in terms of budgets.

Kenny said that the 2016 election would be “a humdinger” and slightly different to previous elections due to the recent surge in support for independents and “the emergence of Sinn Féin as a significant political entity”.

“The General Election situation is conducted at a frenetic pace and focus, specifically and exclusively on the economic programmes being put forward by the parties in terms of running the country. Local elections are different: based on personalities and local issues.”

[In the General Election] the people will be asked a simple question: ‘Have the government sorted out our public finances and have they put our people back to work?’. I expect the answer to that to be affirmative in both cases, but we’ll be judged of course by the people.


Kenny avoided a group of protestors in Castlebar, which included independent Midlands Northwest candidate Mark Fitzsimons, by using a different entrance.

He said Fine Gael hopes to retain four European Parliament seats, but admitted sitting MEP Jim Higgins in “in trouble” in the Midlands North West constituency.

Kenny praised Higgins as “an outstanding and committed member of Fine Gael for very many years”, saying he “first came across Jim in 1979 at council level”. He said he was “one of the most tenacious public representatives for following through on issues that are of concern to him” and noted his role in setting up the Morris Tribunal.

Kenny described Fine Gael losing two seats in his home constituency of Castlebar as “a blip”. His brother Henry, retained his seat, but a recount is due to take place this afternoon at the request of party colleague Brendan Heneghan.

“You win some and you lose some,” he added.

Related: Fine Gael loses two seats in Castlebar as elected independent says people there ‘go to bed hungry’

Read: What does Enda Kenny make of Fine Gael’s election performance so far?

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