Civil War politics will continue unless left parties co-operate – Shortall

Soc Dems TD says potential for centre-left government, but is unlikely this election

Social Democrats joint-leader Róisín Shortall. File photograph: Collins

Social Democrats joint-leader Róisín Shortall. File photograph: Collins


Civil War politics will continue indefinitely unless parties of the left learn to co-operate more with each other, according to Social Democrats joint-leader Róisín Shortall.

“History has made it difficult for people to work together for various reasons,” she said but “we need to move on beyond that point”.

Ms Shortall said she believed “there is huge potential for parties of the centre left to work together” and form a government to end the “Civil War” politics of either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil always in government.

This had been demonstrated through a high level of co-operation in the last Dáil across legislation and private members’ motions.

But the possibility that it would happen in this election was remote. “I’d have to say it’s unlikely at this stage, she said.

“We would like to see that development in Irish politics and we certainly feel that in the election after this one there’s a very real prospect that will be the case.”

Speaking at the launch in Dublin of the party’s proposals on family and childcare policies the Dublin North West TD said she did not think such a coalition was possible at this election because “I’m just not sure if the numbers are there are not.

“We would be very open to it if the numbers are there.”

As Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil repeated their opposition to coalition government with Sinn Féin, Ms Shortall said “we’re not ruling out any party. I think it’s quite arrogant to rule out or veto any other party in participating in government”.

She said “the public ultimately will decide that”.

Ms Shortall added that “we’re also very conscious of the attempt by both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to make this into a presidential-style election where it’s the two big beasts in the contest.

“And the aim is obviously to squeeze other people out. This is not about a personality contest and it shouldn’t be a presidential election.”

She acknowledged the “fracture of the left” after coalition when a small party goes into government with a larger one. Ms Shortall resigned as a minister of state in the Fine Gael/Labour coalition and subsequently from the Labour party in a row over the provision of public primary-care health services.

Pointing to huge potential for parties of the centre left if they co-operated, she said “unless we do that we are going to be stuck with Civil War politics indefinitely”.

“Given the experience of the Green Party and the Labour Party in government, is that the future of politics or is there a more progressive way of politics that we can promote?”