Clear shift in Fianna Fáil’s position towards Sinn Féin, Eoin Ó Broin says

Almost 20 FF TDs said they would not rule out holding coalition talks with party

“It’s clear that there’s a shift in Fianna Fáil’s position in relation to Sinn Féin and I welcome that,” Sinn Féin TD Eoin O Broin said. Photograph :Gareth Chaney/Collins

Senior Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin has said it is clear there is a shift in Fianna Fáil’s position towards his party.

It comes after The Irish Times reported almost 20 Fianna Fáil TDs said they would not rule out holding coalition talks with Sinn Féin after the next election. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has appeared to soften his stance on the prospect of negotiating with Mary Lou McDonald's party. He suggested it "may evolve depending on policy" while saying Sinn Féin's current policy platform "would make it very difficult for us to coalesce with them".

Sixteen other Fianna Fáil TDs including Jim O’Callaghan and Minister of State Robert Troy expressed a willingness to sit down with Sinn Féin after the next election. While Fianna Fáil TDs cited various reservations about the rival party’s policies, no one that offered of their views to The Irish Times ruled out future coalition talks with Sinn Féin.

Mr Ó Broin said on Tuesday morning: “It’s clear that there’s a shift in Fianna Fáil’s position in relation to Sinn Féin and I welcome that.” His remarks came on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne Show. He also said that in his view the “crucial thing on the other side of the general election is are parties going to talk about doubling capital investment to deliver large volumes of social and affordable homes for working families”.

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Mr Ó Broin said what he claimed are the “failed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael housing policies of the past” need to be abandoned. He was on the show debating housing policy with Fianna Fáil senator Mary Fitzpatrick. She responded to Mr Ó Broin’s criticism saying: “you’ve never delivered a house”.

Ms Fitzpatrick was asked about the prospect of working with Sinn Féin. She said: “I’m in politics to deliver for my constituents and my community and if anybody is willing to be honest in their endeavours and do that with me I’ll work with them.” Asked if this included Sinn Féin she said: “Why not?”.

Yesterday Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, who did not respond to The Irish Times survey, declined to rule out working with Sinn Féin in the future while speaking on the same programme. He said that the election is four years away and the issue is “speculation” at the moment. “I’m focused on delivering on housing and housing policy”, he said, adding: “There’s quite significant differences between our parties”. He said Sinn Féin has opposed every measure the Government has brought forward in relation to affordable housing and claimed they have “fantasy-type solutions” and “no real alternatives”.

However, he added: “Things evolve though. The Taoiseach said that. They evolve into the future. If I was to see real policy formation and things, of course. But it’s four years hence.” Mr O’Brien said the issue of whether of not Fianna Fáil would go into coalition talks with Sinn Féin has “absolutely not” been discussed in detail within the party.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times