South casts a shadow over Sinn Fein's campaign launch
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams launched his party's Assembly election campaign in Belfast yesterday by focusing on the election fallout in the Republic.
The party presented its 39 candidates in the Metropolitan Arts Centre in the city's Cathedral Quarter as it set out its political vision for the next five years.
Sinn Fein will stand in every constituency here and will run 15 women candidates.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said his party had led from the front and delivered positive change.
"We are now looking for a stronger mandate that will drive forward a more ambitious agenda of improvement," he added.
However, party leader and Louth TD Mr Adams was more concerned about the political crisis engulfing Dublin.
"It was clear from the election results that the only option was for the two conservative parties to form a government," he said.
"The policies of both parties are entirely compatible. In local councils across the State, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are in coalition, mainly to keep Sinn Fein out of council positions. Every day there have been over 500 people on trolleys, the homeless crisis is getting worse, and Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are wasting time.
"It is obvious that what in part motivates their slowness to agree a deal is their concern that Sinn Fein, which has been the main party of opposition, would become the official Opposition.
"Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, Sinn Fein will provide a constructive, vigorous and effective opposition to the policies of the conservative parties.
"It will be entirely reprehensible if Fine Gael and Fianna Fail come back next week, having suspended the Dail, and go through the same charade again. They should either do a deal or they should admit that there won't be one. Its time they were honest."
Mr Adams' intervention came after acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny accused his Fianna Fail rivals of making a serious mistake in spurning his proposal from a ground-breaking coalition.
While Mr Kenny's Fine Gael overwhelmingly backed the move, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin decided against it after four hours of negotiations with members of his own party.
An agreement would have brought to an end more than 90 years of enmity caused by the Irish Civil War.