Fianna Fáil agrees not to enter coalition talks with Sinn Féin

Fianna Fáil agrees not to enter coalition talks with Sinn Féin

By Juno McEnroe and Daniel McConnell

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has told his parliamentary party that he wants to form a government-but has ruled out working with Sinn Féin.

Speaking to TDs, senators and MEPs in Leinster House, Mr Martin discussed the fallout from the weekend's general election, in which the party lost 15 seats and only won 37 overall.

He told the gathering that he wanted to try and put a government together, leaving all options open except working with Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin.

It is understood that he said a five-year term was preferable and that something “radical and different” was needed.

There have been suggestions in recent days that Fianna Fáil could seek to build a 'super' coalition involving Fine Gael and the Greens, a huge majority that would not require others.

There was also no challenge to Micheal Martin's leadership at the meeting-despite the bruising election results and recriminations in recent days over party strategies in the campaign.

Earlier, a number of new and returning TDs told the Irish Examiner of their opposition to cooperating in a coalition with Sinn Féin.

There is also a larger view that Ms McDonald's party should be allowed “at it”, said sources, after winning the popular vote.

At the meeting, which began at midday today, Mr Martin made a strong plea to be given a mandate to enter government and those present approved a motion to appoint a negotiating team.

Mr Martin, despite being under considerable pressure, did not face any challenge to his position at the meeting.

According to sources, Mr Martin expressed a desire to avoid a second general election and was backed by the likes of Michael McGrath, Thomas Byrne and Darragh O'Brien.

Mr Martin was deeply critical of Sinn Féin in his remarks, saying their economic agenda poses a significant risk to Ireland's open economy.

He said the next government must be “radical and different” and appealed to his TDs, Senators and MEPs that he be given a mandate to seek to enter government and begin discussions with other parties.

Limerick County TD Niall Collins said that the party was fully behind not going into government with Sinn Féin.

He also said a possible coalition with Fine Gael was not really discussed at the meeting, and added it may not be possible to form a government.

It comes as Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald earlier told her parliamentary party meeting that it would be "quite a challenge" for Fianna Fáil to sign up to a government of change, but there is an obligation to act urgently.

Ms McDonald had written to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin seeking a meeting about government formation.

- Additional reporting Cianan Brennan

More on this topic

Coalition between FF and SF not an impossibility, says ByrneCoalition between FF and SF not an impossibility, says Byrne

Martin and Varadkar to discuss potential of so-called grand coalitionMartin and Varadkar to discuss potential of so-called grand coalition

Varadkar calls on McDonald to disband IRA Provisional Army CouncilVaradkar calls on McDonald to disband IRA Provisional Army Council

'How does that represent change?' - Social Democrats TD would be 'massively uncomfortable' with FF/FG govt'How does that represent change?' - Social Democrats TD would be 'massively uncomfortable' with FF/FG govt