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Niall Carson/PA

McDonald: 'I've made contact with Greens, Soc Dems and PBP about government formation'

She said her preference would be to form a government without Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Mary Lou McDonald has said she has already made contact with a number of smaller political parties about the possibility of forming a government without Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

McDonald’s party has been topping the polls so far, taking the first seats in several constituencies. Counting begins around the country from 9am this morning and the Sinn Féin leader told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland she expects the party “will clear 30″ seats today.

“We will certainly have had a historic election, there’s no doubt the old party system is now gone and over.”

When asked about possible coalition partners, McDonald said she believes “the best thing” would be a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

She said she has already made contact with the Green Party, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit, but the numbers today will determine the direction of this.

McDonald acknowledged that her party should have fielded more candidates, but said she was deeply appreciative of the people who did vote for Sinn Féin candidates.

Although it would not be her first preference, she will talk to Micheál Martin – and to Leo Varadkar – after the final results are clear.

“I’m glad Micheál Martin, it seems, has come to his senses,” she said, adding that it was never a “sustainable position” to suggest Sinn Féin could be excluded from government formation talks.

Also speaking to Morning Ireland today, Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe restated his party’s position on a coalition – they will not be going into government with Sinn Féin.

He said it appeared that voters see Fine Gael as “a party of the status quo” and he and his colleagues will have to “reflect on the learnings from that”.

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