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Eoin Ó Broin says Sinn Féin cannot form government without either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael

Ó Broin said that even if all the left-leaning parties came together, they’d fall short of a majority in the Dáil.

File photo. Eoin Ó Broin.
File photo. Eoin Ó Broin.
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Updated Feb 14th 2020, 8:39 AM

SINN FÉIN’S HOUSING spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has said that his party cannot form a stable government without the support of either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

Ó Broin told RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland that even if all of the left-leaning parties came together, they’d fall short of a majority in the Dáil.

He added that political parties who say they won’t discuss government formation with another party – as both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have done about Sinn Féin – “smacks of arrogance” and “recklessness”.

Yesterday, Micheál Martin rejected speaking to Sinn Féin about forming a government after a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

Martin had been under pressure from some quarters to engage with Sinn Féin on coalition talks but he said that his party is united behind the opinion that it will not discuss a programme for government with Sinn Féin.

Martin said he came to this view after speaking with party members who felt that “the economic platform that Sinn Féin put forward in the election was irreconcilable with Fianna Fáil.

The Fianna Fáil leader added that he couldn’t rule out another election given the uncertainty around numbers in the next Dáil.

Fianna Fáil have 38 seats in the 33rd Dáil, Sinn Féin has 37 and Fine Gael has 35. Even if two of these were to come together and agree to form a government, they’d also need the support of another party or independents to exceed 80 seats and have a majority in the Dáil.

Fine Gael has also ruled out speaking to Sinn Féin, and it’s becoming more likely that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael could enter into discussions about forming a government.

On the possibility of it taking quite some time for a government to be formed, Ó Broin said this morning: “I don’t think the public will tolerate this dragging on for weeks and weeks.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald wrote to Martin yesterday, prior to his public statement ruling out Fianna Fáil working with the party.

McDonald’s party has been holding talks with smaller parties but even if they all got behind Sinn Féin, they’d be likely to fall short of a majority. 

Ó Broin said: “He’s a man during the general election saying he wouldn’t go into government with Leo Varadkar either,” adding that Micheál Martin was someone who could “change his mind on these matters”. 

He added that the best way to deliver on the “change” that people voted for was for “all parties to be responsible and talk to each other” instead of “threatening” another election.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael reaction

Also speaking to Morning Ireland, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary said he was explicitly ruling out going into government with Sinn Féin.

However, he said that Micheál Martin would be replying to the letter sent by Mary Lou McDonald.

Calleary said: “He indicated yesterday he would be replying to it. He’d be available to talk through that letter with her. He indicated that he would meet with Mary Lou but be very clear that we would not be entering into government. The policy issues are too incompatible.”

There will be an approach to Fine Gael at some stage. We’ll be reaching out to other like-minded parties.

He said there’d have to be a “different policy agenda” to the last government if Fianna Fáil were to go into government with Fine Gael which would necessitate tough negotiations.

“It’s not a question of exchanging valentine’s cards and hoping they send one back,” Calleary added.

Speaking to the same programme, Fine Gael’s Heather Humphreys said that her party wouldn’t be going into government with Sinn Féin but failed to deliver a definitive answer on if they’d go into government with Fianna Fáil.

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Sean Murray

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