Sinn Féin cleared for coalition talks with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

Eoin O Broin

Sinn Féin delegates have voted to allow the party to negotiate with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil after the next election — despite insisting they still want to prioritise forming a “left-wing government” with other parties.

The decision was made during an amended motion on the first day of the party’s annual ard fheis in Belfast last night, which initially said the “only objective” of the party should be a left-wing coalition.

Speaking as Sinn Féin sources strongly indicated they are likely to ditch plans to table a no confidence motion in Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy if there are significant policy changes in the October budget, delegates backed plans to allow negotiations with all parties after the election.

In a move backed by MEP Matt Carthy, housing spokesman Eoin O Broin and others, the party said while it does not support the policies of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, there is a need to speak to all parties after the next national vote.

The move came as senior party sources indicated they may ditch plans to table a no confidence motion in Mr Murphy if Fine Gael introduces significant policy changes in the October budget in a bid to not affect the abortion legislation and ongoing Brexit talks.

In widely leaked comments on Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Sinn Féin’s threat to table a no confidence motion in Mr Murphy over surging homelessness figures could cause a snap election by forcing Fianna Fáil to either back the Government in the vote or break the confidence and supply deal.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, senior Sinn Féin officials said they are still actively considering tabling the long-threatened no confidence motion — with potential June 20 and mid-July dates put forward.

However, the sources said that Sinn Féin must consider if there is any point in simply removing a minister if he will just be replaced by another minister without any substantial policy changes taking place.

“Sinn Féin have private members motion time later this month and are strongly considering using that time to place a motion of no confidence in Eoghan Murphy,” a senior party source said.

“However, changing the Minister without changing the policies will do little to tackle the housing crisis. A change of policy is urgently needed.

“Budget 2019 represents an opportunity to change this.:

While the dual coalition motion and housing no confidence motion developments appear to show a warming in relations between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, both parties continued to criticise each other yesterday.

The animosity was apparent at a separate event in Government Buildings, where Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “Fine Gael will not be going into government with Sinn Féin.”


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