Update: Mary Lou McDonald has rallied her new bumper-sized parliamentary party with a call of “my friends, we have work to do”.
In her opening remarks to the first meeting of her old and new TDs at Buswell’s Hotel next to Leinster House, Ms McDonald reiterated her stance that the electorate has called for “change”.
She said that “before Saturday’s election I said this election could shape life in Ireland for the next decade and could be seismic for the Irish political landscape”.
“Well my friends, lo and behold, I think that assessment proved to be correct,” she said.
She said that her party’s mandate involves invoking “solutions” to the problems in Irish society.
“Our objective is a Government that builds homes, cuts rents and freezes them. We want to reduce the pension age to 65, and to stand up to the vulture funds and the insurance industry.”
She said that advancing on Irish unity “is not just possible, but necessary at this time”.
She said it is the “duty” of the Irish Government to plan for the process leading up to a referendum on a united Ireland, but said that unionists “need not fear the debate and discussion about the future, because this needs to be an inclusive, engaging, and forward-looking debate”.
“We have a plan and the solutions and the team to deliver,” she said.
Ms McDonald reiterated that she has already held meetings with the Green Party and People Before Profit, has spoken to Labour, written to Fianna Fáil, and will today meet with the Social Democrats with a view to forming a Government.
Regarding the fact that Fianna Fáil, in particular, has made it clear it will not go into coalition with Sinn Féin, she said “we’re not in politics for power or status, like those who have spent decades in Government serving their own interests”.
“That’s why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are so determined to keep us out of Government, have said that they will ignore our democratic mandate, but that stance has run out of road,” she said.
“Those days are over, because now is the moment for change and now is our time. If we do our job I believe Sinn Féin can lead such a Government,” she said to rapturous applause.
Sinn Féin is expected to meet with representatives from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael next week.
Ms McDonald said that the key question is “will Fianna Fáil sign up for that kind of change, the type of change that the people have voted for?”.
“Micheal Martin has said that he is a democrat, that he respects the decisions of the people. He knows that people want change. So can Fianna Fáil be part of that change, that is the big question,” she said.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has confirmed that the newly configured membership of the Rural Independent Group is ready and willing to enter government formation discussions with all of the main political parties.
Mr McGrath was speaking after he was nominated and reappointed as Convenor of the group, which includes Deputies Michael Collins, Michael Healy-Rae, Carol Nolan and Danny Healy-Rae.
It followed a meeting in Portlaoise on Wednesday.
“All the members of our group recognise the clear and fundamental shift that has occurred in Irish politics over the course of the last few days.The electorate, both rural and urban are demanding change,” he said.
Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald has contacted Micheál Martin to set up a meeting.
She has already met with the Greens, Solidarity-PBP, has spoken to Brendan Howlin, and tomorrow she will meet the Social Democrats.
Pearse Doherty, who is leading the party's negotiating talks, said there are big policy incompatibilities between the two parties.
He said that Sinn Féin wants a Government for change, saying: "Mary Lou McDonald said that we would talk to all parties after the election.
"She has already met with The Green Party and People Before Profit, has spoken to Brendan Howlin and tomorrow she will meet with the Social Democrats. Those talks will continue.
"Now we wish to meet with Fianna Fáil, and later on with Fine Gael.
"The first step of that process is for our leader Mary Lou McDonald to meet with the leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin.
"Our objective is a government that builds homes, cuts rent and freezes them, deals with the health crisis, reduces the pension age to 65, stands up to vulture funds and the insurance industry, gives workers and families a break and advances Irish unity."
Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party meets later for the first time since it lost eight seats in the general election.
The party is split on what to do next and whether or not to work with Sinn Féin.
The reduced parliamentary party gathers in Leinster House with plenty wanting to air their views about what went wrong.
It will be Micheál Martin's first time addressing the group since the election.
The party also has to decide what to do next, and is completely split on whether or not to do business with Sinn Féin.
Some see it as political pragmatism, that the numbers are the numbers and the will of the people.
While others say they would entirely reject the idea of government with Sinn Féin.
Niall Collins has already added his voice to Jim O'Callaghan and Anne Rabitte in opposing a coalition with Sinn Féin.
The parties will continue to hold exploratory meetings, with the Social Democrats planning to talk to Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil and the Greens.
However, everyone is still in the stage of feeling things out and assessing the numbers before any serious negotiations start.
Sinn Féin, who got the largest popular vote in the new Dáil, yesterday kickstarted the race to form a new Government via “constructive” meetings with the Green Party and People Before Profit.