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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Mary Lou McDonald has contacted Micheál Martin to seek a meeting about government formation

It comes ahead of a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party later today.

general-election-ireland-2020 McDonald has spoken to a number of parties so far. Source: Niall Carson/PA

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has written to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as the party continues talks seeking to form a government following the results of the general election.

It comes ahead of a planned meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party later today, with TDs mulling the question of if it should go into government with Sinn Féin.

Fianna Fáil came out with the most seats from Saturday’s general election, with 38, but Sinn Féin won 37 seats and also the highest proportion of first preference votes.

If Sinn Féin had run more than 42 candidates, it is likely it would have returned a far higher number of seats.

So far, the party has held talks with smaller left-leaning parties with McDonald stating her preference was for a government without Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael (35 seats).

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday said he expects his party to lead the opposition in the next Dáil – which would mean a coalition of Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin – and Pearse Doherty confirmed this morning that McDonald had contacted Micheál Martin.

He said in a statement: “Sinn Féin is looking to establish a government for change. Now we wish to meet with Fianna Fáil, and later on with Fine Gael. The first step of that process is for our leader Mary Lou McDonald to meet with the leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin.”

Doherty said that there “big policy incompatibilities” between the two parties. 

“Our objective is a government that builds homes, cuts rent and freezes them, deals with the health crisis, reduces the pension age to 65, stands up to vulture funds and the insurance industry, gives workers and families a break and advances Irish unity,” he said.

The Sinn Féin TD for Donegal added that there’s an “obligation on all of us to act urgently”. 

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Sean Murray

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