By Daniel McConnell, Juno McEnroe, and Cianan Brennan
A so-called ‘super grand’ coalition made up of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, and the Green Party is being proposed in a bid to deny Sinn Féin power.
While both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are prepared to initially sit back and allow Sinn Féin attempt to form a government, it is being suggested that such a three-way government would reflect the reality that 75% of voters voted to keep Sinn Féin out of office.
While there is a strong desire throughout Fine Gael to leave office and go into opposition, several leading figures said the journey out of government is not straightforward without risking a second general election.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has so far ruled out any prospect of a deal with Sinn Féin or Fine Gael.
He is likely to come under increasing pressure to back down on his stance relating to one or other party if he wants to fulfil his wish of becoming the next taoiseach.
Ahead of the Dáil’s return on Thursday week, negotiations will begin between Sinn Féin and other left-leaning parties today to begin exploring how a government may be formed.
The party’s team of negotiators, led by Pearse Doherty along with Matt Carthy, Eoin Ó Broin, and Louise O’Reilly, will first meet with representatives from Solidarity People Before Profit and the Green Party, with further meetings expected with the Social Democrats and the Labour Party as the week progresses.
Divisions within Fianna Fáil over the possibility of a potential power deal with Sinn Féin were again evident ahead of a meeting of the reduced parliamentary party meeting tomorrow in Leinster House.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan warned that Sinn Fein’s manifesto election promises, if implemented, would “turn the country into Venezuela”.
Mr O’Callaghan said there was “no purpose in going through the charade of talks” with Sinn Féin about coalition options.
“No one voted to compel Fianna Fáil to go into government with Sinn Féin,” he said, adding that its voters would be “annoyed” if the party did so.
Mr O’Callaghan said he would refuse to serve in a government involving Sinn Féin, if the opportunity arose. He would sit on the Fianna Fáil backbenches instead, he told RTE.
Timmy Dooley, who lost his seat in Clare, said he did not know if there is an appetite to work with Sinn Féin.
“There has to be a compromise if there is to be a government. I think all party leaders should sit down and talk,” he said.
Earlier, Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry said talks between both sides “may well take place” but this did not mean a coalition.
Meanwhile, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has played down concerns about Sinn Féin’s past.
“It is not about personalities and it shouldn’t be about the past either,” she said about expected talks between her party and Sinn Féin and any coalition plan.
Nonetheless, she said Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane’s chanting of “Up the ‘Ra” — caught on camera this week in Waterford — was concerning and “unsavoury”.
The Green Party will also meet with Sinn Féin today and lay down its bottom lines for sharing power, while Labour will also hold its first post-election meeting.
Speaking at Sinn Féin headquarters in north inner-city Dublin yesterday, Mr Doherty said he welcomed the fact Mr Martin has apparently softened his stance towards a Fianna Fáil coalition with Sinn Féin, adding that “they have now recognised that this election has changed everything”.
“We won this election,” he said. “The people came out in their hundreds of thousands to say they want Sinn Fein, and we have smashed through that barrier that has seen two parties dominate the stage for the past 100 years.”