- with reporting by Cianan Brennan
Fianna Fáil is set to pave the way for coalition talks with Fine Gael after rejecting any possibility of forming a government with Sinn Féin.
Micheál Martin told Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald by telephone yesterday that there are huge gaps between the two parties, as he ruled out a coalition with her.
This is despite warnings from within Fianna Fáil that an alternative coalition route with Fine Gael — the only realistic option left for a stable government — could “divide the party from top to bottom”.
Ms McDonald said it was “disgraceful” that Mr Martin was refusing to work with her.
The standoff comes a week after an election in which Sinn Féin won the popular vote but Fianna Fáil came back with the most Dáil seats.
The Dáil will meet next Thursday but is unlikely to successfully vote for a Taoiseach with parties undecided about how to reach a consensus.
Mr Martin referenced economic reasons, including her party’s plans for €3.8bn in new taxes, as well as issues about the party’s past and its current structure. He explained that his party has a mandate and duty to try and form a government.
Nonetheless, party sources confirmed Mr Martin told her no one grouping in the Dáil can force another grouping to form a government “when there are such incompatible views on economic policy and other issues”.
But Ms McDonald said: “I told Micheál Martin that people who voted for Sinn Féin and those who voted more widely for change are angry that Fianna Fáil is denying them the respect of sitting down with the party that represents them.
“People voted for change and for a new government. They did not vote for a Fianna Fál/Fine Gael grand coalition.”
Earlier, she called on smaller parties not to work with the two parties, adding: “I think it is actually quite disgraceful that the old boys’ club of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael believe that they can set aside the democratic mandate of Sinn Féin.”
Mr Martin has said he will speak to others, including Fine Gael, about coalition options.
But Fianna Fáil TD Eamon O’Cuiv warned that a coalition involving his party and Fine Gael would “divide our party, from top to bottom”