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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019
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Sinn Féin is standing by its friends in Greece

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

Updated 12.10pm 

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Everyone’s talking about…

As Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras attempts to convince his own Syriza party of the merits of the deal he secured with creditors early yesterday, here in Ireland we’re wondering what sort of response to expect from Sinn Féin.

The party closely aligned itself with Syriza in recent months with finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty in Athens for the referendum result just over a week ago. But with Tsipras having been forced into a deal that appears worse for Greece than what was on the table before the vote, the Irish Anti-Austerity Alliance TDs have already dumped on their now former friends in the Syriza leadership.

But what’s Sinn Féin response?

This afternoon, two of the party’s leading spokespeople, Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald stood firmly behind the Syriza government.

0802 Sinn Fein Sinn Féin spokespeople at Leinster House today Source: Sam Boal

Doherty told reporters at Leinster House that Syriza had “negotiated with their last breath in the negotiations at Eurogroup”.

Unfortunately the Eurogroup and our own government decided to side with the strong instead of those that needed support and solidarity.

But does Sinn Féin think Tsipras should have taken a greater stand?

Doherty argued that there was an agenda at EU level “to try and destroy Syriza”.

Of course [we stand with Tspiras and the Syriza leadrship]. We stand with anybody who argue on behalf of their people that a better deal is possible, to put front and centre at the European stage that debt relief has to be brought about for the Greek people.

0795 Sinn Fein Source: Sam Boal

Some analysts have already concluded that Sinn Féin made a strategic mistake in aligning itself so closely to Syriza. But the party is sticking to its guns and argues that in fact it is our own government that’s made a miscalculation here.

McDonald explained:

I think very clearly the damaged party here is the government of Enda Kenny and Joan Burton. We see them again like nodding dogs at the EU table rolling over, failing to stand up for what is required and what is required is the resolution of the debt issue.

Doherty concluded that a better deal would have been possible had our own government stood in solidarity with Greece “instead of allying themselves with the strongest in Europe”.

The agenda 

  • 10.30am: The cabinet meets in Government Buildings. Depending on how much it gets through it could be the last meeting before the summer break. 
  • 11.45am: The Health and Children Committee discusses affordable and quality childcare with a range of experts.
  • 1pm: The Seanad has a busy agenda for the day with legislation on low pay, urban regeneration and housing, defence and industrial relations being debated up until 8.30pm
  • 3.15pm: It’s the first Leaders’ Questions of the week in the Dáil. 
  • 3.30pm: The banking inquiry meets in private session ahead of another busy week which includes Bertie Ahern on Thursday afternoon. 
  • 5.54pm: In the Dáil amendments to the personal insolvency laws will be debated along with the final stages of the Children First Bill.
  • 9.45pm: This week’s Dáil private members’ business comes from a group of independent TDs seeking more government support for senior citizens. 

Inside Leinster House 

The retirement of Roscommon-South Leitrim TD Frank Feighan will have surprised some but his departure helps Fine Gael’s efforts to ensure a third of its candidates are female. Councillor Maura Hopkins, who ran in the by-election last year, is likely to be the party’s pick in the new Roscommon-Galway constituency. It also probably ends a longstanding rumour that Feighan will become Ceann Comhairle of the current Dáil.

What the others are saying

  • RTÉ‘s Ken Foxe reveals that politicians have spent €600,000 on PR using a little-known Oireachtas allowance. 
  • The Public Accounts Committee will invite independent TD Mick Wallace to discuss his claims over Nama’s sale of its Northern property portfolio in private session, the Irish Times says. 
  • Political parties have been told to stop collecting outside the church gate by the Diocese of Elphin, the Irish Independent reports. 

In case you missed it

On the Twitter machine

Independent senator James Heffernan tweets an emoji reaction to Eircode

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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