Senior Fianna Fáil members have rejected a suggestion by Simon Coveney, the agriculture minister, that they could go into coalition with Fine Gael after the next general election.
Despite being 15 months out from the next planned election, the TDs yesterday insisted they would not prop up Fine Gael in any deal to keep the government party in power.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin rejected the proposal and dismissed what was seen as glowing compliments from Mr Coveney.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner this week, Mr Coveney gave the strongest support yet for a potential coalition between the Civil War protagonists.
“I think there’s a lot of good people in Fianna Fáil, I think I could work with them. People who support Fianna Fáil in some ways probably have a lot in common with people who support Fine Gael,” he said.
“I know Micheál a long time; I don’t have any problem with him. I think he is very competent.”
Mayo TD Dara Calleary was one of the first Fianna Fáil TDs to reject the suggestion. He told Newstalk: “I think it’s very premature for the minister to say that he would go into government with us.
“For it [government] to be different, Fine Gael need to be outside of it. The next government needs to be a government that cares about the people of this country, not just a certain cohort, not just about the wealthiest in society at the cost of everyone else.”
Mr Calleary also attacked Mr Coveney’s record in agriculture, saying he had made decisions that favoured the industry rather than ordinary farmers.
Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív was equally as displeased with the proposal. He said Mr Coveney could “dream on” and that the option had already been ruled out.
Mr Ó Cuív has made it known that Fianna Fáil should consider going into power with Sinn Féin. He argues that a coalition with Fine Gael might leave his party as the junior partner and, in the long run, risks seeing Fianna Fáil becoming less relevant.
Clare TD Timmy Dooley also dismissed the suggestion: “They [Fine Gael] have concentrated their efforts on looking after the better off in society, rather than looking after people on social welfare or dependent on State services. I think there are fundamental differences between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.”
A spokesman for Mr Martin said his position was still that the party would not go into coalition with Fine Gael and that the party was “too right wing”.
Having their say on FF FG coalition
“Micheál Martin has been part of that Government in the past. I believe he is a busted flush and has nothing to offer.”
— TD Jerry Buttimer, Cork South Central (FG).
“So, dream on [Simon] Coveney... First of all the leader [Micheál Martin] has ruled it out so it’s really a non-issue, but I actually don’t think there’s support.”
— TD Éamon Ó Cuív, Galway West (FF)
“If Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael want to play footsie with each other... there’s not much I can do about that. I know ourselves and Fine Gael come from different ideological backgrounds. Fianna Fáil don’t have an ideology and they’ve a terrible habit of destroying the country when they do get into power.”
— Junior minister and TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Dublin North (Labour)
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