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Joan Burton: Sinn Féin has a 'one for everyone in the audience' mentality

The Tánaiste says she would find it hard to find a common economic platform with Sinn Féin.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has said she does not envisage a coalition with Sinn Féin after the next election “at this point in time” and has hit out at the party’s “economic populism”.

The Labour party leader said that among some independents on the left and right and “to some degree in Sinn Féin” there is a growing “economic nihilism” where “no plan, no strategy is sufficient”.

“We’re at a position where, in a certain sense, there’s kind of been in Ireland among the opposition parties this year, a bit of a carnival of reaction where they essentially have said: ‘We wish to tear down everything,’” she told reporters in a pre-Christmas briefing earlier this month.

“Hence, on the ultra-left you have this idea that you would default on debt, after the problem has been largely fixed.

“Now, in Sinn Fein’s case, they decided to vote for the Bank Guarantee when the problem first arose and they are now, in essence, offering to default, after most of the problem has been addressed and is being managed – with difficulty – but it’s being managed.

“I find it difficult to see where we would find a common platform on an economic programme.

“I think that economic populism, obviously, is very attractive, I suppose in a certain sense it brings to mind comparisons between, if you like, Sinn Féin and a kind of old Fianna Fáil, that there’s a kind of a ‘one for everyone in the audience’ mentality.

She said that given the economic progress the country has made under the coalition government in recent years she found it difficult to envisage Labour being part of an “utterly populist platform which would simply offer free take-outs for everybody, with no sense then of how to deal with the consequences”.

The Dublin West TD said that her recent involvement in the Northern Ireland talks on flags, parades and the past had shown her that Sinn Féin is reluctant to engage in any economic discussion which she found “deeply disappointing”.

Burton also said she was “moved and honoured” to have been elected Labour leader in July of this year, describing it as an “interesting and exhilarating year that I’ve enjoyed enormously”.

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On the Labour’s poor performance in the polls, she added: “I think that rebuilding the Labour party is going to take a bit of time and I think it’s very much dependent on people feeling that the country is moving and that people themselves are moving to a better place in terms of work in particular.” 

Read: Support for Labour and Fine Gael drops in latest Red C poll

Watch: He’s ruled out Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, so could Micheál Martin do a deal with anyone?



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Hugh O'Connell

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