Enda Kenny opens door to Fine Gael coalition with Sinn Fein in Republic of Ireland
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has opened the door to Fine Gael doing business with Sinn Fein in a move that will cause major disquiet within his party.
In a dramatic shift from his pre-election position that Gerry Adams' party is "not fit for government", Mr Kenny repeatedly refused to rule out a future Dail coalition.
It follows a softening of Sinn Fein's own stance that it would only enter into a coalition if it was the senior partner.
The party's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald now says she wants to be in government and a "conversation" needs to be had between now and the next election.
Mr Kenny, who has been leader of Fine Gael for 15 years, has always maintained that there is no way his party would work with the republicans.
However, asked whether this might change in light of Ms McDonald's comments, he replied: "I said I wouldn't do business with Fianna Fail, so depending on the result you gave as a member of the electorate, politicians have to work with the result.
"So Sinn Fein seem to be converted now to a position of changing their stance," he said.
However, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday that a Fine Gael deal with Sinn Fein "wouldn't be possible".
"I can't see it. I wouldn't seek a mandate for it and I think our policies are so far apart that it wouldn't be possible.
"It's actually the public and the people who will decide the make-up of the next government. But I absolutely do not envisage and would not seek a mandate for coalition with Sinn Fein," he said.
A number of senior Fine Gael sources were shocked by Mr Kenny's inconsistency, with one saying: "This is ridiculous stuff. I can't understand why he would open up this can of worms."