Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald PA Wire/PA Images
door open

'We'll talk to all parties': Sinn Féin amends motion stating it can only go into power with left-wing parties

Sinn Féin says it is ready to ‘step up’ and enter government after the next election.

A SINN FEIN motion, which states that the party’s only objective should be to form a “broad left-wing government comprising parties and independents of a similar political ideology”, has been amended ahead of the party’s Ard Fheis today.

The original clár published this week shows the original motion was put down by the Templeogue/ Terenure cumman.

However, Pearse Doherty said this week the branch which proposed this motion has agreed to accept an amendment from Ard Comhairle.

The amended motion now merely states that the party should attempt to form a government after the next election.

The change to the motion clearly shows that party headquarters would prefer to keep the door open to talks with other parties – such as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – following the next general election.

The Donegal TD said his party want to “go in and lead a progressive government”.

He said they would like to be the largest party in government, but said Sinn Féin is prepared to “step up” and talk to all independents, small parties and large parties.

Getting cosy

In recent months, the new party leader, Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of “cosying up” to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Gone are the days when the pair would heckle one another from across the Dáil chamber. Instead, there are cordial exchanges, even polite remarks and compliments swapped between the two leaders.

Despite, McDonald calling Varadkar “smarmy” in one recent interview, the Dublin TD told this publication recently that she is open to work with anyone.

Even ‘smarmy’ guys?

“Can I work with a ‘smarmy’ guy?” she returns our question.

“I mean can he work with a ‘cranky’ woman – these are all the questions of our time,” she joked, referencing a comment made about her by Leo Varadkar in the Dáil. / YouTube

“I am going to fight for every vote, every seat we can get and I will talk to everybody. I  think that is the right thing to do,” she told

However, despite the motion being amended this weekend to leave the door open to the likes of Fine Gael, Doherty does not have confidence in any of them, it would seem.

No confidence in Fine Gael

“We have no confidence in Eoghan Murphy. We also have no confidence in Simon Harris, we also have no confidence in Leo Varadkar – we are not the party keeping this government in place,” said Doherty, clearly pointing to Fianna Fáil, a party that has categorically ruled out going into government with Sinn Féin in the future.

Another motion to be voted on today notes that other minority partners in government have suffered losses (most recently, the Labour Party, which fell from 15 seats to seven).

It states these parties “abandoned their principles in favour of short-sighted gains”.

This is the what Sinn Féin will be cognisant to avoid in the uncharted territory it might itself in – government formation negotiations.

Since the last election, the party has faced criticism that it would not even entertain the notion of talks with other parties in relation to forming a government. Sinn Féin maintain no one would speak to them.

If they face down that criticism, get down to talks and do enter as a junior government partner, the party will have to strike a balance.

It will have to be seen to fight for its key causes and principles, and not be rolled over by the larger party. However, the party will also have to prove that it is capable of leading – that it won’t pull the whole show down over an arbitrary issue.

It would be a difficult balancing act.

If Mary Lou wants to be “Tánaiste” or “Taoiseach Mary Lou” (which she recently said had a nice ring to it) then her party might be wary of removing lines which reference their “left-wing” ideals.

Sinn Féin will need to ensure its supporters don’t think the idea of the “left” has been totally removed from the party’s ideals – otherwise it could be waiting another five years for an opportunity.

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