A senior Fianna Fáil TD has said "there is no impediment" to going into government with Sinn Féin after the next general election.
Galway West representative Éamon Ó Cuív made the surprise remark after both parties achieved significant success in Friday’s local and European elections.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme, the one-time Fianna Fáil leadership candidate dismissed any future coalition with Fine Gael.
He said the current Government parties are too ideologically different, despite both traditionally occupying similar ground.
However, when asked about the possibility of going into government with Sinn Féin, a move previously considered unthinkable by Fianna Fáil, Mr Ó Cuív said he “wouldn’t have an issue”.
Arguing “we are both republican parties”, he said “there is no impediment to Fianna Fáil working in the future with Sinn Féin”.
The situation is likely to gain further attention over the coming months as thoughts turn to the next general election, which will take place on or before Spring 2016.
In Friday’s local elections, Fianna Fáil rose from the ashes of 2009 and 2011 to become Ireland’s largest local authority party, with 25.2% of first preference votes.
While Fine Gael gained 23.8%, suggesting the possibility of a super-coalition between the pair, Sinn Féin’s surge to 15.3% of first preferences — double that of Labour — means if the trend transfers to a general election they are now a genuine numerical option for any party seeking power.
However, Sinn Féin will be wary of falling foul of entering any government with Fianna Fáil, given its consistent criticism of the party’s policies since the crash and of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition over what Sinn Féin claims is a continuation of Fianna Fáil policies.
Meanwhile, Mr Ó Cuív has also ruled out involvement in any mooted leadership contest against party leader Micheál Martin.
Speaking on the same programme, the long-standing TD said he was not aware of any push against the current leader.
When asked about the separate issue of Mary Hanafin’s decision to [url=http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/battle-of-blackrock-over-but-will-bygones-be-bygones-as-hanafin-says-631633.html]run in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, despite vocal opposition from Mr Martin, he said the row was a “small procedural issue”.
For more in depth updates and analysis on the fallout from this year's election and access to our comprehensive results database visit our special Election 2014 section.
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