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'The two-party system in this country is now broken': McDonald arrives at RDS to cheers from supporters

“I think certainly the election has proven to be seismic,” McDonald said.

Updated Feb 9th 2020, 4:25 PM

mary lou 283 Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and deputy leader Michelle O'Neill speaking to reporters at Dublin's RDS count centre Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said “the two party system in this country is now broken” and that it has been “dispatched to the history books”. 

McDonald was speaking to RTÉ News as she arrived to a storm of reporters and supporters at Dublin’s RDS count centre this afternoon. 

An exit poll commissioned by TG4, RTÉ, the Irish Times and UCD last night shows that Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are all tied on similar support of around 22%. 

“I think certainly the election has proven to be seismic,” McDonald said. 

It’s not an overstatement to say it’s historic. The two party system in this State is now broken, it has been dispatched into the history books. 

McDonald told reporters she has spoken to the Greens, the Social Democrats and the People Before Profit party.

“I do not believe it is a sustainable position for either Leo Varadkar or Micheal Martin to say that they will not speak to us, representatives of a such a sizeable section of the Irish electorate,” she said. 

This is not a protest vote. This is certainly an election that is historic in proportions, this is changing the shape and mould of Irish politics.

“This is not a transient thing – this is just the beginning.”

‘A statement of change’

McDonald said the support for Sinn Féin is a “big statement of change”.

“It’s a big statement that this is no longer a two-party system, it’s a statement that people want a different type of government and people have great confidence in us, and I say that with all humility,” she said. 

My first port of call is the other parties to see whether or not can we actually give a new government, a government without Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. That’s item number one.

“Beyond that of course I will talk to and listen to everybody with the express intent of getting a programme for government that delivers for people.

McDonald added they “we are not doing another five years of housing crisis, that is not on the agenda”.

“We are not going to simply allow record (hospital) trolley counts, day in, day out, week in, week out,” she said. 

“We want families and workers to have breathing space, I mean financial, economic security and breathing space.

“Those are the items on the agenda, I will talk to everybody about those things.”

Asked if the result marked a revolution in Irish politics, McDonald replied: “Yes, you could call it that for sure.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has arrived at the Cork South Central count centre where Sinn Féin is expected to top the poll. 

“I want to first of all thank the voters of Cork South Central because it seems from the tallies that we will win two seats here, in or around 35% of the vote, which given everything which has happened today is a very very solid performance from myself and Michael McGrath,” Martin said. 

“We will obviously listen. The people have spoken and there is no greater democrat than I, but that said we will not preempt the outcome itself because it’s very clear to us that the destination of the final seats in many constituencies cannot be called now.”

Includes reporting by Press Association

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