Fine Gael TDs respond negatively to Simon Coveney’s suggestion of coalition with Fianna Fáil
Cork South Central TD Jerry Buttimer says Fianna Fáil did ‘untold damage’ to State
Minster for Agriculture Simon Coveney: ‘No major impediment preventing Fine Gael from entering a coalition with Fianna Fáil’. Photograph: Alan Betson
Mr Coveney has said he is willing to consider a pact with Fianna Fáil after the next election, breaking a rivalry between both parties that has extended for nearly a century.
“I think there’s a lot of good people in Fianna Fáil, I think I could work with them. People who support Fianna Fáil, in some ways probably have a lot in common with people who support Fine Gael. This isn’t an ideological problem for me. It will be a practical challenge though to put together a programme for government that Fine Gael can sign up and Fianna Fáil can too,” he said.
Mr Coveney’s Cork South Central colleague Jerry Buttimer yesterday said he was dead set against any such arrangement because of what he described as the “untold damage” Fianna Fáil had inflicted on the State.
“I personally wouldn’t be in favour of letting Fianna Fáil back into government in any shape or form,” he said.
Meath East TD Regina Doherty said she would not be happy personally about going into government with Fianna Fáil. “We are picking up the pieces of their policies from the last term. Besides, they do not have any substantial policies at the moment that can be scrutinised.
In an interview in the Irish Examiner, Mr Coveney said his preference was for the present Government to be re-elected but said his party would have to look at other options if itself and Labour could not make up the numbers.
He firmly ruled out Sinn Féin but added: “I don’t have any ideological problem with forming a coalition with Fianna Fáil. As long as we can hammer out a programme for government, that is something that Fine Gael can support.
In reference to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who is a constituency colleague in Cork South Central, he said: “I know Micheál a long time; I don’t have any problem with him. I think he is very competent. I’m not going to start suggesting that he’d be a good tánaiste, because I don’t know.
‘Off message’Brendan Howlin
Another influential Dublin Fine Gael deputy said privately that Simon Coveney was completely “off message” with his comments and not keeping with party strategy.