Ireland not ready for Adams as tánaiste, says Labour Minister

Sinn Féin leader says junior coalition partner ‘in crisis’ in response to Alan Kelly comments

Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly has said he would be “very reticent” to go into Government with Sinn Féin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly has said he would be “very reticent” to go into Government with Sinn Féin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Wed, Jun 4, 2014, 15:14

Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly has said he would be “very reticent” to go into Government with Sinn Féin, saying the party still had a “road to travel”.

Mr Kelly, a contender for the position of deputy leader of the Labour Party, stressed that the formation of a new coalition was not up for discussion.

“The idea of Gerry Adams as a tánaiste or a senior minister in a government is not something I believe that a lot of people are ready for,” he said.

“I’d be very reticent to go into Government with Sinn Féin. I think they’ve a road to travel yet.”

Responding, Mr Adams said Labour was in a crisis because of the “despicable way that they tore up their election promises”.

He said Sinn Féin was focused on improving people’s living standards. Asked whether he thought Ireland was ready to see him serve in a position such as tánaiste, Mr Adams said: “I don’t have any ambitions to be anything other than a team player.”

Mr Kelly’s comments echo those of Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, who is vying for the Labour leadership position. She said she did not feel Sinn Féin was ready for government.

Her rival for the leadership position, Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White, said he did not think there was any party in the Dáil which could afford to exclude Sinn Féin.

Mr Kelly was launching National Bike Week in Dublin today when he was asked about future coalition options.

“Northern Ireland is a different space. It’s a different context. In the Republic we’ve a tradition of democracy, we’ve a tradition from a political point of view about being pretty open about where we come from and what we stand for,” he said.

“I’m not sure Sinn Féin have got to the point of being totally up-front with people in regards where they come from and what they stand for.”