Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein willing to discuss government with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail

Pearse Doherty said the party is willing to speak to either of the main parties in order to form a more progressive government.

Pearse Doherty and Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)
Pearse Doherty and Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Sinn Fein have said they would be wiling to discuss forming a government in the Irish republic with Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

Launching the programme for the party’s Ard Fheis in Derry this weekend, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said the party is willing to speak to either of the main parties, and a broader left coalition, in order to form a more progressive government.

“The current position goes back to last year’s Ard Fheis, which is Sinn Fein will only enter a coalition if we can secure an appropriate programme for government that delivers on our major issues,” Mr Doherty said on Tuesday.

We're open to it, if those parties are wiling to come on board, with a proper progressive policy platform Pearse Doherty

“We need to see proper investment in housing, a solution to the perpetual crisis in health, a focus in relation to public finances, moves in preparation for Irish unity.

“But the position is, it would be up to the delegates of Sinn Fein, if we were satisfied we could secure that with any other coalition party, then we would go back to them.

“We’re open to it, if those parties are wiling to come on board, with a proper progressive policy platform.

“Now, that would be a big step for them to take, given we have these two conservative parties that have been in government for the last three years that have made the health and housing crisis worse, and widened the gap between income earners.

“Whether they’re willing to move on that would remain to be seen, but our position allows us to enter in those discussions.”

Both parties have previously rejected the notion of forming a government with Sinn Fein, however recent polling consistently shows that no party will be able to form a majority government in a forthcoming general election, which is expected in spring 2020.

More than 2,000 party members will debate 166 motions over Friday and Saturday at the party conference, looking at all policy areas, including planning for Irish reunification, large-scale public housing, measures to reduce rent, the climate emergency and insurance premiums.

President of Irish Congress of Trade Unions Gerry Murphy will address the delegates as well as representatives from Palestine and Cuba.

On Saturday night, the conference will announce the results of the ballot contesting vice president Michelle O’Neill’s position in the party, after a controversial play for the role by MLA John O’Dowd.

At Tuesday’s event, Mr Doherty refused to say who he would support on the ballot, but said the candidate is confident in the knowledge they have Mr Doherty’s support.

Also present was Michelle Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh, who has publicly backed Mr O’Dowd previously and reaffirmed her position, and Kathleen Funchion, TD for Carlow and Kilkenny, confirmed she will be backing Michelle O’Neill.

Mr Doherty added that both candidates have been given access to the full list of party members and have both been campaigning intensely.

PA

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