Sinn Féin frontbencher favours coalition after next election

Cullinane favours coalition even as the minority party: ‘We want to be in government’

Sinn Féin’s  David Cullinane favours coalition. Party  leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald have  signalled that the party’s stance on coalition could change. Photograph: The Irish Times

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane favours coalition. Party leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald have signalled that the party’s stance on coalition could change. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin frontbencher David Cullinane has signalled he favours entering coalition as a junior partner after the next election if the party can get the right deal with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.

As the party prepares to review its position on coalition in the coming months, Mr Cullinane told reporters this morning he favoured entering Coalition if Sinn Féin could achieve a programme for government agreement that was “genuinely progressive, genuinely republican”.

that’s why we’re in politics. We want to be in government

“Whether or not we go in as a majority or a minority party will ultimately be a matter for the ard fheis and the membership of the party,” he said, but when pressed, he said that he would favour joining a government even as a minority partner.

“Of course,” he said, “that’s why we’re in politics. We want to be in government.”

At the last election, Sinn Féin ruled out participating in a government as a minority partner with either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. However, since then, the party’s leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald have signalled this position could change.

Based on current opinion poll standings, a general election would produce a similarly uncertain outcome to last year’s contest.

However, were Sinn Féin to change its stance on coalition, the landscape of government formation would be dramatically altered.

It is expected the issue will be discussed by the party at local level in the coming months and by the ard fheis in November, with an emerging lobby in the party in favour of participating in government as a minority partner.

“We should talk to all parties about all possibilities,” Mr Cullinane said this morning.

He was speaking in Leinster House where the party published a short discussion paper on protecting workers rights, in which the party pledges to implement legislation in has previously published and to nominate a super junior minister for workers rights in Government.

we will talk to all parties about being in government

“It is not about whether we’re a junior partner. The electorate will decide how many seats Sinn Féin wins. The first thing we have to do in any election is to win as many seats as possible for Sinn Féin.

“I’m making it clear that we want to be in government. I’m also making it clear that we will talk to all parties about being in government. And if you want your policies to be implemented, obviously the best place to be is in government,” he said.

Asked if he contemplated discussions about a minority role in government with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Mr Cullinane said, “After the next election we will talk to all parties about our manifesto, our policies, with the intention of trying to get those policies implemented.

“And if any party is willing to work with us and talk to us, then obviously - and agree a republican programme for government, then we will put that to a special ard fheis.”

Mr Cullinane said, “My view very directly would be that if we can get a programme for government agreed that is genuinely progressive, genuinely republican, with any political party that should then be put to the party at a special ard fheis.”

Pressed as to whether he would support entry into government in these circumstances, even if Sinn Fein was a minority partner, Mr Cullinane confirmed that he would.

“The question the media are not asking is why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael won’t talk to us,” he said.