Anti-water charge campaigners and opposition TDs have played down Sinn Féin’s hopes of a pre-election pact.
Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, said the party would advise its voters to back the Right2Change — a coalition of unions, politicians and groups opposed to water charges — second to itself.
The Dublin TD said the Sinn Féin decision to align itself with other opposition groups would provide a very real chance of a left-wing government after the general election.
Up to six political parties and trade unions could fight under the one banner, against water charges and together in the general election, but have individual manifestos, she said.
“We believe there is a great opportunity, now, in the forthcoming election. We believe that we need an alternative and a progressive government. Sinn Féin wants to be part of that and we believe that parties and candidates who share this platform, and who agree on these principles, should, while attending to their own election campaigns, equally encourage people to transfer to other like-minded candidates.”
She said there would be no joint manifesto, but that her party’s candidates would encourage voters to give their support to other candidates, such as socialist TDs or those opposing water charges, on the ballot paper after Sinn Féin.
Right2Change have given groups until Friday to respond to their call for a united front in the general election. The Anti-Austerity Alliance, People Before Profit, and some Independent TDs have indicated support for the campaign against water charges, as have trade unions, Unite, Mandate and the CPSU, among others.
But some opposition TDs are hesitant about committing to any united campaign with Sinn Féin, for the election. People Before Profit leader, Richard Boyd Barrett, said that the aligning of the parties before the election had still to be finalised.
Paul Murphy, Anti-Austerity Alliance TD, said this week that he would not reciprocate in any voting pact with Sinn Féin. He did not return calls last night.
Newly formed party, the Social Democrats, would only say it was considering the pact and would decide by Friday.
Labour, who are competing with Sinn Féin for support, criticised the idea of the pact.
Party leader Joan Burton said: “In terms of what has happened so far, I saw that some of the groups are going to transfer and others are not going to have anything to do with some of the groups, so it sounds a bit as though before they even got to the altar, they fell out, maybe even before they got into the church, or wherever the union was going to be celebrated.”
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