Fianna Fáil TDs are split on going into a coalition as junior partner to Fine Gael after the next election with those opposed fearing it would finish off the party.
Finance spokesman Michael McGrath sparked a storm in Fianna Fáil ranks by saying it would be “arrogant” to insist it would only re-enter government as the dominant partner.
However, party leader Micheál Martin has refused to comment on the row raging among his TDs ranks despite a Cabinet minister urging him to clarify his post-election position.
Former minister Willie O’Dea said it was a bad idea to prop up Fine Gael as he referenced the demise of the Progressive Democrats and the Greens after they acted as junior partners to Fianna Fáil. “It would have dire consequences for Fianna Fáil. The example of junior partners in coalitions is not a good one, as Michael McGrath has said himself in the past. How am I supposed to tell voters in Limerick that want to get Enda Kenny out that I would put him back in again? Whether we were the senior or junior partner I do not think a coalition with Fine Gael would be a good idea,” Mr O’Dea said.
The view was echoed by Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins who said he did not want Fianna Fáil to end up like Labour as he predicted doom for that party in the looming general election after going into coalition with Fine Gael.
Mr McGrath said Fianna Fáil needed to take a realistic position after the election.
“It would be arrogant and dismissive if you were to get everything you wanted in a pre-government negotiation process and you still said ‘well actually, we’re not going to go into power because we’re not the number one party’. It would be like a couple entering into a marriage and one of them saying that ‘I’ll only get married if I’m going to be the boss in this relationship’. Well that wouldn’t last very long,” Mr McGrath told RTÉ.
Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe called on Micheál Martin to state “clearly” who he is willing to go into Government with after the vote.
“Prominent backbenchers in his own party are disagreeing with him on both counts and as a leader of that party he has a duty now to spell out very clearly to the Irish people if they do vote for Fianna Fáil what else are they going to get in return for that vote,” he said.
Labour’s minister for small business, Ged Nash, predicted that Fianna Fáil would do anything to get back into power.
“Fianna Fáil would probably do business with the devil himself to get back into government. Clearly Michael McGrath was angling for an arrangement with Fine Gael. There are some in the Fianna Fáil party who want to go into Government with Sinn Féin. I think that either of those arrangements would be disastrous for the Irish economy and the Irish people,” the minister said.
Mr Martin’s spokesman said he would not be commenting on the matter.
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