Soc Dems play down SF fears as coalition talks ramp up

Soc Dems play down SF fears as coalition talks ramp up
Roisin Shortall of the Social Democrats is elected in Dublin Bay North as ballot papers are counted General Election. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Social Democrats co-leader, Róisín Shortall, has played down concerns about Sinn Féin's past ahead of expected coalition negotiations between the two parties.

The Greens will also meet with Sinn Féin today and set out their crucial issues for sharing power while Labour and Fianna Fáil will this week hold their first post-election party meetings.

Coalition talks are ramping up after the members of the 33rd Dáil were elected, in what has been described by all sides as a fractured parliament.

Speaking to RTÉ Six One news, Ms Shortall dismissed concerns about Sinn Féin's past.

“It is not about personalities and its shouldn't be about the past either,” she said about coalition talks.

Nonetheless, she said Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane's chanting of 'Up the Ra' — caught on camera this week in Waterford — is concerning and “unsavoury”.

Politicians had been told that people wanted a “change in direction”, in areas such as health and housing, she added.

“It is not about promises for the future, it is about what we need to do now to tackle those problems,” she explained.

She said it is up to all of the parties to work together, but that the talks could drag on for some time.

The former minister also warned that unless a bloc can be put together in excess of 80 seats, a majority needed to control the Dáil, politicians will be back on streets with another election.

Asked about 'bottom lines' for the Social Democrats, Ms Shortall said housing has to be tackled and that her party, now with six TDs, wants to see affordable homes built that would cost €200,000 or less as well as rent freezes and more access in the healthcare system.

Labour will discuss the aftermath of the election today as well as how the Sinn Féin surge impacted on its Dáil ambitions. Six Labour TDs were elected — three of whom were not in the last Dáil.

Elsewhere, People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd-Barrett, expressed doubts about forming a left-wing government.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett

The Dun Laoghaire TD said on Newstalk: "If you look at the numbers, it appears we don’t quite have the numbers."

His party benefited hugely from Sinn Féin surpluses during the election, with some candidates brought back into constituency races thanks to the extra votes transferred to them.

Nonetheless, Mr Boyd-Barrett is pessimistic about a coalition being cobbled together under Sinn Féin: “We will explore what we can do in that regard, but looking at the raw numbers, it would seem we are short of a majority to be able to do that.

"I think there will be discussions among parties of the Left over the next week about what can be done. But it would appear we don’t quite have the numbers.”

However, he did say he expects to meet with Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, and discuss the options shortly.

Elsewhere, Aontú leader, Peadar Tóibín, said he is holding talks with at least five independent TDs about cooperating together in the new Dáil or being part of a government.

“Aontú received over 50,000 votes in the General Elections. This is a great result for our first year. We actively seek to form a government and I have started discussions with a number of independents in order to create a Technical Group to negotiate for government on the basis of an agreed platform,” said Mr Tóibín.

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