What the smaller parties say about forming a coalition with Sinn Fein

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As the Dail seats begin to fill up and the landscape of the Irish legislature becomes clear, attention will turn to talks between parties and how they will form a government.

With Sinn Fein bringing an end to the two-party system that has dominated Irish politics, the focus will be on what the government will look like and who will be the leading party.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has already spoken to smaller parties including the Social Democrats, Solidarity-People Before Profit and the Greens in the hope of forming a left-wing government.

Roisin Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats, was non-committal on whether her party would enter government with Sinn Fein as her election in Dublin North-West was confirmed.

Roisin Shortall
Roisin Shortall (Niall Carson/PA)

“We are still waiting for half the seats to be filled, so it’s very hard to know what the final lie of the land will be, we are waiting on that. Obviously our concentration is on our own performance and winning as many seats as we can,” she said.

“We just don’t know how things will shake out. It will be two or three days before the final seats are filled and we’ll look at the situation then.

“The priority is to ensure that the big problems in the country are solved. That’s what we’re about, it’s about putting forward positive solutions to the problems the country is facing – that’s what the public want us to do.”

Asked if she would be part of a government including Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail, Mrs Shortall said it would depend on the final breakdown of numbers in the Dail.

Green party leader Eamon Ryan said it is hard to see how to form a stable government.

Eamon Ryan
Eamon Ryan (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We’ve said the climate and biodiversity crisis is so severe and we need to react so fast on such scale that it has to involve everyone and every place matters.

“I think you respect the people who vote for whatever representative they send and see if you can work with them. It will depend a lot on the numbers and on what party positions parties take.

“The 160 TDs have the duty of trying to elect a taosieach, form a government. I don’t know how it will work this time.

“We will probably sit down… with other like-minded parties, like Labour, Soc Dems, independents to see if we can come together to strengthen our hand by working collectively as a bloc.”

Richard Boyd Barrett
Richard Boyd Barrett (Brian Lawless/PA)

“People want action on housing, they want public and affordable housing and an end to the diktat of speculators and vulture funds.

“They want a national health service where health is provided not on the basis of the size of your wallet but on the basis of medical need.

“The tide is to the left and I think that will continue to rise, but what’s critical is we don’t use that tide to prop up Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.”

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