Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said his party "needs to be ready for government", but will not do "what Labour has done" and enter coalition "merely to give cover to the agenda of conservative parties".
At a speech to his party’s newly elected councillors and MEPs in Dublin at the weekend, Mr Adams said the party needs to decide where it wants to be in the medium to long term, and would begin a process of engagement with its members to reach a “consensus” on that question.
However, on the most likely coalition, he said that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil “should be in Government together” because they are “conservative soulmates”.
Mr Adams criticised what he described as “conniving” by the main parties “to carve up council positions for each other” following a number of alliances in councils across the country.
“It’s time Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil stopped pretending they are different. They are not,” said Mr Adams. “Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are conservative soulmates. They should be in government together.
“The challenge for Sinn Féin is to decide where we want to be in the medium to long term and chart a course toward this. That means we have to be very clear about our objectives and our strategies. That means we need to be more cohesive than ever before.”
Mr Adams welcomed comments from opponents, mainly Government ministers, who have said Sinn Féin’s economic policies should come under scrutiny. “It would be great to have a real discussion about the need for a different economic approach,” he said.
Without giving specifics, he said Sinn Féin believes “that it is possible to make the necessary deficit adjustments without harming families or frontline services by creating jobs, asking the wealthiest to pay more and by cutting waste from public spending”. People have been “pushed to the limit” through mortgage distress, the property tax, planned water charges, and the withdrawals of discretionary medical cards,” he said.
“Let those on the Irish left who really believe a government without Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is possible begin working together towards that end,” he said.
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