Joan Burton refuses to rule out Fianna Fáil coalition
Tánaiste says Labour Party will not coalesce with Sinn Féin, accusing Adams of ‘amnesia’
Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton: “I want the Labour Party to be in government, but that is dependent on the will of the people.” Photograph: Aidan Crawley
Tánaiste Joan Burton has refused to rule out the Labour Party supporting a Fianna Fáil-led government after the general election. In Co Limerick yesterday, Ms Burton said her focus was on returning the Fine Gael-Labour coalition. However, when asked whether she would consider entering a government with Fianna Fáil, Ms Burton said: “I want the Labour Party to be in government, but that is dependent on the will of the people.
“We will be working right up to polling day to get every vote we can for every candidate we have to get elected. So that choice lies with the people.”
Ms Burton was asked again if she would consider entering coalition with Micheál Martin and his party. She told reporters her “exclusive focus at the minute” was on returning the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition, but did not elaborate.
Campaigning in Ennis, Co Clare, Mr Martin said he expected Labour would pay a heavy price for wedding itself to Fine Gael in the election. “The sad thing is the Labour Party year after year for the last five years have been humiliated by Fine Gael and capitulated on each occasion.
“It is very hard to distinguish Labour from Fine Gael and Labour seems to exist to prop up a Fine Gael party that is very focused on looking after the wealthiest in society . . . The people want a change of government and I believe the people need a change of government.”
Poor poll results for Fine Gael and Labour suggest the support of Independents would be required if the current Coalition was to be returned.
Ms Burton ruled out entering coalition with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accusing him of “amnesia” on the murder of Jean McConville. She said Mr Adams relied on a “distinguished set of friends” that would “terrify the life out of most decent people”. She singled out Thomas “Slab” Murphy, an alleged former IRA commander who has been convicted of tax evasion by the Special Criminal Court.
“That’s the irony of a Sinn Féin leader without any past, with amnesia in relation to what happened to people like Jean McConville and other dreadful atrocities,” she said. “It is okay for him to make fun of democracy because obviously he has a very light regard for it.”
Mr Murphy has been described as a “good republican” by Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. He is due for sentencing on February 26th.
In response Mr Adams said: “It is clear that Joan Burton is getting increasingly desperate as each day of the election campaign passes. That is hardly surprising as the Labour Party is facing the imminent wrath of the electorate for its litany of broken promises in Government.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also criticised Mr Adams’s credibility yesterday and said “nobody believed” he was not a member of the IRA. Mr Martin said every garda in the State was aware of his IRA involvement. “That is a big problem for him when he questions other people’s credibility, and his position on the Special Criminal Court remains untenable,” he said.
On the outcome of the election, Mr Martin said opinion polls in last year’s British elections were out 6.5 per cent – “6.5 per cent in any constituency is a seat, so it is wide open.”