FG Minister has ‘no objection’ to coalition with Sinn Féin

Jim Daly claimed partnership is ‘possible but not probable’ due to policy differences

In an interview with ‘Hot Press’ Jim Daly, the Minister of State for Mental Health, claimed a future coalition is possible between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. File photograph: Dave Meehan

In an interview with ‘Hot Press’ Jim Daly, the Minister of State for Mental Health, claimed a future coalition is possible between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. File photograph: Dave Meehan

 

A Fine Gael Minister has “no objection” to his party entering government with Sinn Féin, saying its mandate is as “legitimate” as that of any other political party.

Jim Daly, the Minister of State for Mental Health, claimed a future coalition is possible, even if it would be difficult for Sinn Féin and Fine Gael to agree a policy platform.

However, other Fine Gael TDs strongly opposed to such a move called on him to “clarify” his comments.

“I have no ideological objection to Sinn Féin being part of a government,” the Cork South-West deputy said in an interview with Hot Press magazine. “I just think, on a policy platform, it would be very difficult to agree a programme for government between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin. But, look, politics is the art of doing – and who knows?

“We live in a democracy. The will of the people has to be respected – and Sinn Féin’s mandate is as legitimate as any other party, as far as I’m concerned.”

Elaborating further to The Irish Times, Mr Daly said such a coalition is “possible but not probable”.

Warming

Fianna Fáil figures have claimed Fine Gael and Sinn Féin have been warming to each other since Leo Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as leader.

Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams this week praised the Government’s approach to Brexit and Northern Ireland.

He said that he and his successor as Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald, appreciated that Mr Varadkar has been “forthright” in his insistence that there should be no hard Border after Brexit, as well as the need to avoid the introduction of direct rule from Westminster as a result of the current Stormont impasse.

Mr Adams also criticised Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin’s position on Northern Ireland. “There is a certain irony that the Fine Gael leader has a better position on the North than the Fianna Fáil leader.”

However, Mr Varadkar has said Sinn Féin is “not fit for office”. Fine Gael Dublin North West TD Noel Rock called on Mr Daly to “clarify his comments”.

“The Taoiseach has repeatedly ruled out going into coalition with Sinn Féin in the future and it’s clear that this is not just a runner in the immediate or distant future.”

Mr Varadkar’s spokesman said the Taoiseach “absolutely” rules out entering government with Sinn Féin and said Mr Daly’s comments “weren’t an appropriate thing to be said”. He also ruled out a confidence and supply arrangement with Sinn Féin.

Party policy

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said its future participation in coalition will be on the basis of getting party policy implemented.

“We want to be the largest political party and lead the next government,” he said. “If we’re in that position we’ll need a partner and if we’re a junior position [it will be] based on a republican programme.

“We’re not hungry for government we’re hungry for change, and that’s what will guide Sinn Féin in the time ahead.”

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty made similar comments to Mr Daly’s about Sinn Féin a year-and-a-half ago.

“There are some incredible people in Sinn Féin,” she said. “Incredibly smart, articulate, thoughtful and could I work with them? Of course I could, yeah.”