Minister accuses Sinn Féin of ‘giving up’ on forming government

Green Party keen to assess ‘points of agreement and difference’ with potential coalition partners

A Fine Gael Minister of State has accused Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald of “giving up” on government formation talks.

Minister of State for Housing Damien English said he believes the numbers are available to allow Sinn Féin to try to form a left-leaning administration.

This is despite senior Sinn Féin figures such as Eoin Ó Broin saying they do not think it is possible for the party to form a Government without the support of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Sinn Féin seized the early post-election initiative, after winning an additional 14 seats and the largest share of the vote, by reaching out to other groups in an attempt to form a left-leaning government.


Ms McDonald has said her preference would be to form a government without Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, but Mr Ó Broin said late last week that such an arrangement would not be workable.

“Fine Gael are very clear on this, Sinn Féin did secure the most votes, Fianna Fáil the most seats,” Mr English said on RTÉ’s This Week programme. “We assumed from listening to Mary Lou earlier in the week that she was going to attempt to form the left-wing government...I personally find it strange that she has given up on that already.

“Generally to form a government it does take a bit of effort and time. I am surprised that after three or four days they have given up on that. I think the numbers are there with the support of independents.”

He said that Fine Gael would meet on Monday to discuss the future direction of the party.

Meanwhile, the Green Party is seeking to hold talks with other political parties on how a new government could deliver on the issues of housing, healthcare and combating climate change.


It said Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Social Democrats would be invited to bilateral meetings between February 21st and February 29th to discuss the policy areas in an attempt to get clarity on “points of agreement and difference with each party”.

“There is broad agreement among a variety of parties that any new government has to deliver on housing, health care and climate action but no discussion yet on how these changes should be made,” Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said in a statement on Sunday.

“We are doing what we said on the election campaign, talking to each party equally, respecting their mandate but insisting that any new government has to be fully clear on how we meet the big challenges we face.”

The Green Party won 12 seats in last week’s general election, which saw no party have more than 38 TDs elected, and it has been regularly mentioned as a potential part of a coalition government.

Reports on Sunday suggest Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are to enter talks in the coming days on forming a grand coalition, which would need the support of a third party such as the Greens to have a majority in the Dáil.


However, some in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are opposed to the old rivals pairing up and would favour a period in opposition given both lost seats in the election which followed the conclusion of a confidence-and-supply arrangement between the two during the last Dáil.

Ms McDonald on Saturday accused Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin of arrogance for saying he would not enter coalition with her party due to concerns about Sinn Féin’s approach to the economy and its democratic credentials.

In his statement on Sunday, Mr Ryan said the Greens would be asking the other parties six main questions: How do we meet our climate and biodiversity targets? How do we address the housing crisis? What are the immediate priorities in implementing Slaintecare? How do we fund the necessary increase in public services? What are the all-island, Brexit, and European dimensions to the changes we seek? How do we support better community development as we improve public services?

“Invitations will be sent to other parties on Monday and we will engage with them in advance of each meeting to agree on the terms of reference and approach for each event,” the Green Party said.