Louise O’Reilly denies ‘cover’ by Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin has denied claims that it would consider setting up a minority government with Fianna Fáil is a bid to create “cover” for the organisation amid criticism it has done nothing to help end Ireland’s political stalemate.

Newly elected TD Louise O’Reilly strongly rejected the suggestion in her party’s daily media briefing yesterday, saying Sinn Féin has not been “sitting on our hands” for eight weeks and that the only reason it has not taken part in talks is because it has yet to be asked.

Speaking after the party’s ard fheis on Sunday, Mr Adams said he is open to speaking with Fianna Fáil about a programme for government.

Mr Adams’s remarks, which were heavily qualified when he said any deal with Fianna Fáil would be based on Sinn Féin policy and would have to “do the business as far as we are concerned”, have been widely seen as an attempt by the opposition party to stay relevant and deflect criticism that it has done nothing to end the post-election political stalemate.

However, speaking to reporters yesterday, backbench TD Louise O Reilly said the offer, which has not been taken up by Fianna Fáil, is genuine and not an attempt to give her own party political cover.

“We haven’t been sitting on our hands for the last few weeks,” she said.

“We’ve been actively participating in the committee on Dáil reform, on homelessness, we’re all doing constituency work, so we haven’t actually been sitting on our hands. So there’s no cover required.”

Asked why Sinn Féin is open to forming a government now, Ms O’Reilly said her party has always been available to speak to larger parties. That is despite the fact it passed a motion at its 2015 ard fheis to enter talks only if it was the larger party.

Ms O’Reilly said ‘protocol’ of government formation means it is up to Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil to contact Sinn Féin, but that no contact has been made.

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