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Mary Lou McDonald: 'I may well be the next Taoiseach'

The Dáil is set to sit in nine days’ time.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

Updated Feb 10th 2020, 9:15 PM

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said that she “may well be the next Taoiseach” when the Dáil sits again following the general election.

She made the comments at an impromptu walkabout on Dublin’s Moore Street this afternoon with her party currently on 37 seats in the 33rd Dáil.

The 33rd Dáil is due to sit for the first time in nine days’ time.

The formation of the next government is up in the air, with combinations involving Sinn Féin-Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael and potentially other parties possible.

She said this afternoon: “This election has certainly been seismic and historic, it’s been an election that’s really been driven by a demand for change by the people.

“Sinn Fein won the election, we won the popular vote, we’ve recorded a historic victory for our party but the election is much more than that.

“The election is about a real appetite for political change, and that means a change in government.

We have commenced discussions and contact with the leaders of the Green Party, Social Democrats, People Before Profit, the Labour Party.
I hope we will meet over the coming days to explore in real terms whether we have the numbers and whether the political will exists to deliver that new government that is clearly demanded.
We are absolutely clear we won’t do another five years in the same way as the last four years panned out.

Speaking on to reporters in Dublin this evening, McDonald again repeated that the party won the popular vote but said that she doesn’t “presume that I would be taoiseach”. 

Sinn Féin won the largest number of first preference votes in the country but after choosing to run 42 candidates across 39 constituencies, half of those run by Fianna Fail, the party could not convert those votes in the largest number of seats

On RTÉ’s Six O’Clock news this evening, McDonald said that in hindsight her party might have run more seats but added that her party’s vote “transferred very, very substantially to other parties for change”.

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“So the Greens, the Social Democrats, People Before Profit and so on, and what I want to do now, as the seats are being filled, is I want to have a conversation with the leaders of the other parties for change to see do we have the numbers,” McDonald said, adding that she would be the taoiseach in such an arrangement. 

Well we are the largest party, Sinn Féin won the election, I think everybody accepts that. But it’s not for me an issue of who is in what post, this is about delivering different government better government, a new government, government of change for people.

“And we’ve set out was our strong preferences is, to have government without the old two of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael but equally, we don’t want to see Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael couple up again because we don’t want another five years of that.”

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Sean Murray

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