'We don’t quite have the numbers': Boyd Barrett plays down prospect of SF-led leftist govt

Mr Boyd Barrett said he believed there would be discussions between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil about a possible coalition and also Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Greens.

'We don’t quite have the numbers': Boyd Barrett plays down prospect of SF-led leftist govt

Prominent left-wing TD Richard Boyd Barrett has played down the prospect of a Sinn Féin-led leftist government.

The Dun Laoghaire TD, whose Solidarity-People Before Profit alliance won five seats in the general election, said he doesn’t believe the numbers are there for an alternative coalition of progressive parties.

“If you look at the numbers… it appears we don’t quite have the numbers,” he told Newstalk.

“We will explore what we can do in that regard, but looking at the raw numbers, it would seem we are short of a majority to be able to do that.”

Mr Boyd Barrett said he believed there would be discussions between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil about a possible coalition and also Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Greens.

Mary Lou McDonald has said her first preference would be to form a coalition involving neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael.

The Sinn Féin leader indicated she will hold talks with Solidarity-People Before Profit, the Greens, the Social Democrats and Labour as well as Independents.

Former Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Bertie Ahern suggested there was a possibility of Sinn Féin forming a left coalition, with like-minded Independents.

“I can’t see that being a success, but it could be,” he said.

“There is a sizeable number of rural Independents, probably a group of at least 10 who are like-minded enough, who got strong votes.”

Mr Ahern told Newstalk that over the last 30 years “new things come up” out of “Dáil and election chaos”.

On the possibility of a Fianna Fáil/Sinn Féin coalition, Mr Ahern said he didn’t think there would be a “a sizeable number of Fianna Fáil people” who would have an appetite for it.

On the suggestion of a revolving Taoiseach as part of a coalition arrangement, he added that he couldn’t think of any country where such an arrangement was in place.

“It would be very hard to see how it would work,” he added.

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy said the “numbers are going to be tight” in its efforts to forge an administration without the two former largest parties but said “we have an obligation” to talk to the left-wing parties first over the coming days.

Sinn Féin has had no contact with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael at this stage, the Cavan Monaghan TD told RTÉ Radio One.

“My preference is that (a government) is formed as quickly as possible but my more pressing wish is that the government, when in place, is robust and has a strong mandate and more importantly it implements the kind of changes people voted for last Saturday,” he said.

Fine Gael’s outgoing Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee said the “onus is on Mary Lou” to try and form a government.

Ms McDonald has made preliminary contact with the leaders of the smaller parties as a prelude to negotiations on putting together what would be an extraordinarily diverse administration.

But she also said that “of course” she intended to talk to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael about the possibility of government formation.

Both parties had ruled out working with Sinn Féin after the election.

She said that the question of a rotating taoiseach would be “part and parcel” of any negotiations with the other big parties.

Fianna Fáil is deeply divided over whether it should seek a coalition with Fine Gael or with Sinn Féin.

It has ended up with 38 seats – well short of expectations of a seat haul in the mid 50s – and a view has taken hold among party TDs that it should enter opposition and allow Sinn Féin to attempt to form a minority government.

Senior Fine Gael sources reiterated the view that they would not consider entering government with Sinn Féin, with some senior figures favouring a spell in opposition for the party after nine years in government.

Some party sources said a coalition with Fianna Fáil could come on to the agenda after some weeks if no other government was formed.

Meanwhile, Peadar Tóibín, Aontú leader and Meath West TD, said he has “reached out” to about five Independents who he is planning to talk to over the coming days about a “common platform” to negotiate a place in a coalition.

“Basically what we are looking at doing is to see if we can build a common platform of objectives which would be core to any future government and then potentially negotiate to have those objectives included in a programme for government,” he told RTÉ Radio One.

Mr Tóibín said he would not be confining his would-be alliance to the five.

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