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As new SF TDs arrive at Leinster House, McDonald says it will be 'very difficult' to form government without FF or FG

Newly election SF TDs met for the first time today.

Updated Thu 1:36 PM

5326 Sinn Fein Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald and Deputy Party leader Michelle O'Neill on the Plinth at Leinster House. Source: Sam Boal

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said it would be contrary to the public will if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil went into coalition together. 

Speaking to reporters at Leinster House today, McDonald admitted that it would be “very difficult” to form a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael agreeing to go into government with Sinn Féin. 

Prior to the party’s first parliamentary party meeting, she told her newly-elected TDs that the big question was whether Fianna Fáil would be part of the change the people voted for.

She also said a referendum on Irish unity was a key part of the Good Friday Agreement and preparations for such a poll must begin now.

McDonald said today she planned to speak to the Social Democrats, after speaking with People Before Profit, Labour and the Green Party yesterday with a view to forming a left-led coalition. 

She also confirmed that she wrote to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin ahead of his party’s first parliamentary party meeting after the election. 

McDonald admitted that there are “big policy incompatibilities between us and Fianna Fáil. Of that there is no doubt”. 

However, she said the objective of any new government is change, and she asked whether Fianna Fáil were willing to be a part of that. 

“Will Fianna Fáil sign up for that change? The type of change the people voted for,” she asked.

McDonald said later it would be “tricky” and “very, very difficult” to form a government without the two big blocs of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. 

She added that a Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil coalition would be a “slap in the face” to the electorate. 

The SF leader said “it will be quite the challenge for them to sign up to this type of programme for government but Micheál Martin has said that he is a democrat, he listens to the people and respects the decision of the people, so he knows that the people want change”. 

So can Fianna Fáil be a part of that change? That is the big question. There is an obligation on all of us to act urgently.

On the issue of Irish unity, she said:

“It is a duty of the Irish Government to commence this process. Unionists should not fear a debate and discussions about the future.

This must be an engaging and forward-looking debate.

McDonald was also asked about a recent tweet from a party adviser who said members should tone down unhelpful Republican comments that run the risk of damaging their electoral success, the party leader appeared to agree with the sentiments, stating:

“Bravo.”

Waterford TD David Cullinane caused controversy for the party after the election when he was filmed shouting “Up the Ra” in the wake of his election. 

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