Minister for Justice says he will not support a Fine Gael/Sinn Féin Government

Charlie Flanagan highlights Sinn Féin’s ‘crazed’ economic policies

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan  compared Sinn Féin to its ‘sister party’ Syriza in Greece, where he said the ‘radical left wing economics’ of that party had ‘delivered little more than chaos’. File photograph: PA

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan compared Sinn Féin to its ‘sister party’ Syriza in Greece, where he said the ‘radical left wing economics’ of that party had ‘delivered little more than chaos’. File photograph: PA

 

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has given his clearest signal yet that he would oppose any coalition deal with Sinn Féin after the next election.

Speaking at his selection convention last night in his Laois-Offaly constituency, Mr Flanagan said:

“There has been a lot of speculation about the configuration of the next Government in terms of coalition partners. I want to make one thing crystal clear; I will not support a Fine Gael/Sinn Féin Government,” Mr Flanagan said.

He said he could not “support the cheque book answer as a solution to everything” which he said was the basis “of the crazed Sinn Féin economic policies”.

More importantly however, Mr Flanagan said, he rejected the “recent allegations by Sinn Féin of bias in the Special Criminal Court”.

“It is true that many Provisional IRA and dissident Republican terrorists have been convicted of heinous crimes by the Special Criminal Court over the years by it does not follow that the court has an anti-republican bias. The Special Criminal Court is a vital part of the State’s defence against ruthless criminals and violent terrorists,” he said.

Mr Flanagan compared Sinn Féin to its “sister party” Syriza in Greece, where he said the “radical left wing economics” of that party had “delivered little more than chaos”.

“We cannot allow Sinn Féin any possibility of doing the same here,” he said.

A Sinn Fein spokesman responded to Mr Flanagan’s comments by dismissing them as “just bluster and playing to the gallery”.

“We won’t take any lectures from Charlie Flanagan on the economy when his government is kept in power by the architects of the economic crisis here in Ireland and when his government continues to pursue the same policies that brought us that crisis,” Sinn Fein said.

“The reality is that the people will decide who will govern and not Charlie Flanagan or Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil for that matter.

“Sinn Féin wants to be in government. We will put our policies to the people and, if we get a mandate from the people, we will talk to all parties and none about putting together a republican programme for government that deals with the health and housing crises, tackles the cost of living crisis, faces the challenges of brexit head on and delivers on Irish unity.”

Although senior Fine Gael figures, including the Taoiseach, have ruled out any coalition with Sinn Féin after the next election, speculation persists in political circles that such an arrangement could arise in the event of an inconclusive result where the formation of any government would be difficult.

The Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she is open to talks about forming a government with both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail after the next election, even though both parties have dismissed the suggestion.

Opinion polls at present suggest no clear path to forming a government, though a coalition between Sinn Féin and either of the two big parties could be expected to have the numbers for a Dáil majority.

Nonetheless, such a move would be a difficult departure for either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael, and could be expected to arouse significant opposition from within their own ranks.

Mr Flanagan identifies strongly with the traditional anti-Sinn Féin sentiment in Fine Gael.

The two three-seat constituencies of Laois and Offaly will be amalgamated again as one five-seat constituency for the next general election, meaning that (should they all run, as expected) six sitting TDs will be contesting for five seats.

Fine Gael last night selected three candidates: Mr Flanagan, sitting TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Councillor John Clendennen.