Negotiations will begin between Sinn Féin and other left-leaning parties tomorrow regarding the prospect of forming a coalition Government.
The party’s team of negotiators, led by Pearse Doherty along with Matt Carthy, Eoin Ó Broin and Louise O’Reilly, will first meet tomorrow with representatives from Solidarity People Before Profit and the Green Party, with further meetings expected with the Social Democrats and the Labour Party as the week progresses.
Speaking at the party's headquarters in north inner city Dublin this afternoon, Mr Doherty said he welcomed the fact that Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has apparently softened his stance towards coalition with Sinn Féin adding “they have now recognised that this election has changed everything”.
“We won this election. The people came out in their hundreds of thousands to say they want Sinn Féin, and we have smashed through that barrier that has seen two parties dominate the stage for the past hundred years,” he said.
He said the party would be exploring options “for delivering real change” and looking at solutions for housing, health, climate change, and pensions “in preparation for Irish unity”.
“It is my firm belief that there should be no delay in terms of Government formation,” he said.
Mr Doherty would not be drawn on what his party’s red lines would be in terms of coalition.
“The first job of work that we have to do is to talk to those other parties, who've also received a mandate for change so we have reached out to the Social Democrats, the Green Party, People Before Profit, and the Labour Party, and Mary Lou will be beginning that process tomorrow.”
“We have said consistently that we will meet with all political parties to look at delivering real change for people,” he said.
He likewise would not give any indication as to what ministries Sinn Féin might demand in Government, saying “it’s not about who’s in a position of ministry, it’s about reflecting the views of the public”.
It’s not about individuals, it’s not about ministry positions, it’s about can we now, starting with those parties who have a mandate for change, agree with them and tease out that appetite for real change.
Sinn Féin faces something of a numbers headache in compiling a coalition of the left in that at least 14 votes would need to be agreed with independent TDs in order to reach a majority in the Dáil, together with the involvement of at least five parties.
Sources suggest also that Labour leader Brendan Howlin is not minded to go into coalition unless it is with two of the three largest parties given the instability inherent in the alternative.
Meanwhile, Mr Doherty reaffirmed that his party plans to cut TD, Senator, and ministerial salaries should Sinn Féin come to power.
In terms of a video of his colleague, Waterford TD David Cullinane, saying “up the Ra” following his election on Sunday, Mr Doherty said “those comments are very inappropriate”.
I think there’s a lesson for everybody, not to be giving speeches at two in the morning and letting yourself be carried away by the euphoria of winning.
"But he has apologised and I think that’s the way to go,” he said.