Solidarity-People Before Profit has ruled Sinn Féin out of any future broad-left coalition after accusing the party of “leaning in a rightward direction” by remaining open to a deal with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.
The six-TD strong group outlined the position at its pre-Dáil think-in, claiming Sinn Féin is lurching to the right and risks becoming a “mudguard” similar to Labour in power by suggesting it could be involved in the next government.
Speaking during a media briefing which also heard calls for a referendum on the right to a home and warnings for Government not to bring back bedsits, TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Ruth Coppinger said they are no longer interested in a deal with Sinn Féin.
Despite previously suggesting a broad left coalition, the TDs said Sinn Féin’s recent openness to a deal with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil means the party can no longer be considered.
“We think it is a big mistake for Sinn Féin to talk now about the possibility of propping up Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, so we think Sinn Féin are ruling themselves out if they’re looking in that direction,” said Mr Boyd Barrett, a view repeated by Ms Coppinger.
“We want Sinn Féin to exclude the possibility of a coalition with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, [not doing so] is just getting back into the realms of what Labour ended up like.
“We want something radically different, unfortunately Sinn Féin has moved much more clearly in a rightward direction,” she said.
While the comments limit the strength of a future broad left grouping, it has also been noted that Solidarity-PBP and Sinn Féin are rivals for the same voter base, and that Sinn Féin strategists believe they must officially remain open to entering government to avoid claims they are a protest party.
Meanwhile, Solidarity-PBP said it will call for a referendum on the right to a home on the first day of the Dáil term next Wednesday.
The move was announced as the political grouping insisted bedsits must not return, and as Ms Coppinger called for Government to ignore EU financial rules to ensure money is ploughed into the sector.
Solidarity-PBP, which is aiming to win at least two more seats in the next election, also said it will focus on the Eighth Amendment campaign in the coming months.
While a two-page press release announcing its priorities yesterday did not include any mention of water charges, Mr Boyd Barrett said the party remains committed to blocking any return of fees “through the back door”.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.