Newly elected Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O Laoghaire has expressed concern at the prospect of a Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition, saying it would do nothing to resolve the problems facing families who have not seen any sign of an economic recovery.
Mr O Laoghaire (27), who took the third seat in Cork South Central, said that while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil may be the two largest parties in the new Dáil, he would have reservations about the implications for working families of any coalition agreement between them.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to see Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in coalition - it might be logical in terms of the fact that there is very little difference between them ideologically but I would have a great fear of the type of policies they have,” he said.
“These are two centre right parties, they have governed the state throughout its history, these are the same two parties who brought us the crash and the social housing crisis and the crisis in emergency departments so I would be concerned about what type of government that would be.
“But it looks as one of the likely options at the minute even though the picture isn’t clear nationally. We in Sinn Féin will continue to work with other progressive forces, independents and people who have signed the Right2Change principles and it is on that basis we will negotiate.”
From Togher on Cork's southside, Mr O Laoghaire studied law in University College Cork, where he joined Sinn Féin at the age of 18. He took a year off during his studies in 2009/2010 to work as National Organiser for Ógra Sinn Féin.
Mr O'Laoghaire worked as a parliamentary assistant to Sinn Féin senators, David Cullinane and Trevor O Clocheartaigh and former Cork East Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan from 2011 until he became a full time public representative when he was elected to Cork County Council in 2014.
He said that he believed Fine Gael misjudged the mood of the people with its campaign slogan ‘Let’s keep the recovery going’.
“That’s clear (that Fine Gael misjudged their slogan) there’s no recovery for people on social housing lists, for those on hospital trolleys - the vast majority of people aren’t feeling the recovery, certainly there hasn’t been a fair recovery if there is a recovery.
“I think that slogan did backfire on Fine Gael - an awful lot of people felt they weren’t communicating with them, they didn’t share their experience, they didn’t understand the struggles people were facing.”
Mr O Laoghaire said Sinn Féin had met with a good response on the doorsteps with its emphasis on investment in public services.
“We also tried to emphasize in this constituency, the cost of living crisis and the things we would do to try and reduce the burden on families in terms of that and what our proposals for hardworking families who are under pressure such as taking 250,000 families off the Universal Social Charge.
“It’ partially but not solely about taxation and charges such as the local property tax and water charges - child care was certainly another issue we came across and subsidised child care, reducing the cost of that for families is as good as a second mortgage for a lot of people at the minute.”
Other Sinn Féin policies to address the lack of social housing as well as the spiralling rent crisis also met with a good response, as did their plans to get rid of prescription card charges and widening medical card eligibility, he said.