Enda Kenny left isolated after call on Sinn Féin deal

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been left isolated from the vast majority of his party, after several leadership contenders and backbench TDs refused to support his Sinn Féin coalition call.

Enda Kenny left isolated after call on Sinn Féin deal

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, and Health Minister Simon Harris all rejected the suggestion of sharing power with Sinn Féin just 24 hours after Mr Kenny opened the door to the coalition.

However, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald appeared to back Mr Kenny’s position last night by also failing to rule out a deal, saying “people ultimately decide who forms a government” and that “politicians have to work with the results”.

During his monthly briefing with political reporters on Thursday, Mr Kenny made the surprise decision to leave the door open for a coalition with Sinn Féin.

Responding to similar remarks from Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, Mr Kenny declined to rule out a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin government, saying: “I said I wouldn’t do business with Fianna Fáil so, depending on the result you gave as a member of the electorate, politicians have to work with the result. Sinn Féin seem to be converted now to a position of changing their stance.”

Mr Kenny’s comments — which he repeated three times — are in marked contrast to his previous view of Sinn Féin, leading to speculation an unlikely coalition could happen after the next election.

However, in separate statements to the Irish Examiner Mr Coveney and Mr Harris followed comments from Mr Varadkar on Thursday by directly contradicting the Taoiseach.

Speaking after Mr Varadkar said: “I wouldn’t seek a mandate for it” as “it wouldn’t be possible”, Mr Coveney said “I don’t think the two parties are compatible”.

Mr Harris said: “I am not in favour of a coalition with Sinn Féin.”

However, Ms Fitzgerald failed to rule out the suggestion, saying while it poses “difficulties” the reality is “politicians have to work with the results”.

FG media advisers last night attempted to limit the damage caused by Mr Kenny’s comments by sending an email to TDs and senators warning them to play down the potential move “as not something that arises”.

However backbench TDs Alan Farrell, Fergus O’Dowd, Colm Brophy and Peter Burke’s decision to ridicule the potential plan has sparked fresh questions within Fine Gael about Mr Kenny’s leadership.

In addition to the impact on Fine Gael, the coalition claims are also likely to affect the future leadership race within Sinn Féin.

Despite initially putting forward the idea on Wednesday evening, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald dismissed the issue as “silly season”.

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