Sinn Féin: 'doors are still open' to parties to form progressive government

Sinn Féin says that "doors are still open" to other parties despite formal negotiations for government between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens kicking off this week.
Sinn Féin: 'doors are still open' to parties to form progressive government

Pearse Doherty on the plinth of Leinster House Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Pearse Doherty on the plinth of Leinster House Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin says that "doors are still open" to other parties despite formal negotiations for government between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens kicking off this week.

The party held a parliamentary group teleconference on Tuesday in which leader Mary Lou McDonald told the group her objective remains "a government for change led by Sinn Féin".

The party, who garnered the largest vote in February’s election but missed out on Dáil seats due to an admitted underestimation of the party’s popularity, and fielding a conservative number of candidates in the process, discussed possible government formation outcomes.

The party says it has not given up hope of a "left coalition government" with the Dáil’s more progressive parties, with Ms McDonald telling the group "the numbers are not there for anyone".

"We’ve made it clear to Greens and independents and others, that we still want to be in government and feel that Mary Lou is the best candidate for Taoiseach," Party finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said. "The dogs in the street know any government that excludes Sinn Féin would not be legitimate, Leo Varadkar has gone as far to say, that without the Greens there wouldn’t be legitimacy, that just shows what kind of facade it is.

"We still want to lead the next government, we don’t believe this is necessarily over, no one would be bold enough to suggest these talks are the talks that would lead to a government, there could be many twists in the road from now to then, and there’’s no sign they’ll be successful in getting it passed by two thirds of the Green party membership either.

"Our colleagues have a lot of respect for Green Party members and Councillors, and the decision is for them, but a lot of people would be surprised if the Greens were fooled by the type of talk coming from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael given their record.

"It's up to them, but if I was a Green member I’d be asking why this 7% promise wasn’t in the first response.

"It was to get the Greens over the line in a system that has been dominated by the centre right for far too long. Has Fine Gael ever delivered on climate objectives? Did Fianna Fáil deliver on the objectives the Greens tried to set out in 2007?

"They’ve tried to present themselves in a different fashion, they’re socialists now, they’re going to lead change, taking policies Sinn Féin argued for, and that would be great if it was real, but the reality is it’s not true.

"I’m in politics long enough to know that’’s not the case.

"Any progressive party that would put those two back in government together don’t deserve the label ’’progressive’’."

The party are "not actively looking for another election", according to a senior source, but "will be ready when it comes, fielding a lot more candidates and all the rest".

Meanwhile, Solidarity/People Before Profit have written an open letter to Sinn Fein, calling for renewed talks to form a left government.

Co-leader Richard Boyd Barrett notes in the letter addressed to Mary Lou McDonald that “radical and necessary changes in policy will simply not take place under a government involving Fine Gael and Fianna Fail”.

The two parties had, prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 in Ireland, reached quite “an advanced stage” to develop a programme for government and called for such talks to resume.

”Against this background, I am writing to suggest that Sinn Fein, Solidarity-People Before Profit, Left Independents, the Social Democrats and others who see themselves on the left in Irish politics, should renew our previously commenced efforts to develop an alternative programme for real change and press forward a campaign for a left government,” Mr Barrett added.

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