McDonald says SF wants to find common ground with Labour

TD says party does not have to be largest coalition partner in left-wing Government

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald: said the next government should not contain either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. File  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald: said the next government should not contain either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil. File Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 15:13

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said her party wants to find common ground with Labour and would not necessarily have to be the largest member of a left-wing coalition Government.

In an interview today on The Irish Times podcast, Inside Politics, the Dublin Central TD said the next administration should not contain either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

“We need to find, and we would like this to happen sooner rather than later, a space and a way in which we can build a dynamic and build agreement and build consensus on those points that we agree on to offer that alternative,” she said.

Ms McDonald said the process would be easier if Labour was not currently “pursuing the type of politics that they’re pursuing” in coalition with Fine Gael.

Asked if Sinn Féin would only enter Government if it was the largest party in the coalition, she said: “I think we would be absolutely core to any such alliance...but we’re not so petty as to say it would be game over if Sinn Féin weren’t the number one slot. I think that would be ridiculous.”

However, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin would be in “pole position” at the moment to lead an alternative left-led alliance on the basis of discipline within the party ranks as well as “numbers”.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was described as “the outstanding political figure of his generation” by Ms McDonald, who said he remained the best person to lead the party at present.

She said she would consider the leadership in future. “As and when that issue arises, and it’s not an issue now, I would consider that.”

Ms McDonald described the IRA campaign of violence as “almost inevitable”, given the situation in Northern Ireland at the time.

“That doesn’t mean that I glory in it. Far from it. If I wrote the history book myself it would read very, very differently,” she said.

Ms McDonald welcomed the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva’s examination of a variety of Irish issues.

On the issue of abortion, she described the current legal framework as “hugely problematic” for women carrying babies with fatal foetal abnormalities, or in cases of rape and incest.

* Inside Politics is a free weekly politics podcast usually presented by the digital development editor of the Irish Times Hugh Linehan and produced by Sinead O’Shea.

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