The leader of Fianna Fail has said the party will “listen to the people” following the Sinn Fein surge in the General Election.
Micheal Martin has consistently ruled out the prospect of entering a coalition government with Sinn Fein, however appeared to soften his stance as results from Saturday’s poll rolled in, showing Sinn Fein making historic gains across the country.
Mr Martin referred to a “fragmented political landscape”, while speaking from his native Cork south central, where he had still not been elected on the third count, seeing Sinn Fein’s Donnchadh O Laoghaire elected on the first.
However, as he arrived at the Nemo Rangers GAA Club for the Cork South Central count Mr Martin said policies do not change overnight.
“I think we are looking at a far more fragmented political landscape historically,” he said.
“We are also looking at considerable volatility in voters because I was just watching this morning, people getting elected today who didn’t get elected in local elections six months ago, so that’s interesting that people are quite volatile from election to election.
“That said, one’s policies and one’s principles don’t change overnight, and there are serious policy issues and for any government to sustain into the future.
“There has to be a coherent sustainable programme for government that can be implemented and delivered.
“The election result has happened, we will listen to people, we have listened to the people, they have voted in the main for three main parties.
“There’s other parties like the Greens doing well and independents.
“There is significant incompatibility in terms of the policy platforms of ourselves and Sinn Fein.
“We just have to put that marker down.
“People have one good feat and will win well in terms of different constituencies, I respect that, I acknowledge that, but our policies, our positions and principles haven’t changed overnight or in 24 hours.”
He added: “But what is important is that the country comes first, after the last general election, we did facilitate the formation of a functioning government and I think there is an onus and an obligation on all to ensure that such a functioning government is formed after this.”
Some within Fianna Fail have stated that they are open to the prospect of working with Sinn Fein, including John McGuinness in Carlow Kilkenny who on Sunday urged Mr Martin to speak to Fine Gael, Sinn Fein and Independents about forming a new Government.
“It’s quite clear that the message from the electorate is that we must speak to every party, including Independents, to try and bring together a government,” he told RTE.
“I would be supportive of the party discussing the government with Sinn Fein, and Fine Gael and Independents.
“The day has come when we need to put aside all the differences with Sinn Fein and Fine Gael and deal with the economic issues.”
And Marc MacSharry in Sligo–Leitrim was also not ruling the idea out, telling RTE: “We’ll have to see what happens with the arithmetic (when votes are counted).”
Meanwhile Fianna Fail’s director of elections in Donegal Brendan Byrne has called for an internal party debate about going into government with Sinn Fein.
He said that the party must listen to what the public is telling them, and that they have an obligation to make every effort to put together a government, including considering Sinn Fein, and that the public does not want another election.