Pressure at Fianna Fáil ardfheis to rule out any Sinn Féin deal

Ardfheis at RDS will also hear calls for party to field candidate in presidential election

Micheál Martin: he has said that President Michael D Higgins retained his full support. Photograph: Alan Betson

Micheál Martin: he has said that President Michael D Higgins retained his full support. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Fianna Fáil TDs will face pressure at the party’s ardfheis this weekend to categorically rule out entering coalition with Sinn Féin in the future.

A motion to be debated will call on the ard comhairle, the party leadership and the parliamentary party to explicitly outline their view that “under no circumstances will Fianna Fáil enter a coalition government with Sinn Féin”.

Party leader Micheál Martin has insisted Fianna Fáil will not enter any arrangement with Sinn Féin, but many of his TDs have said it must be considered in the future.

Carlow Kilkenny TD John McGuinness, Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe, Roscommon TD Eugene Murphy and James Lawless of Kildare North have all stated the party should be open to such a coalition.

The party’s justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan also raised the prospect of a confidence and supply arrangement, but Mr Martin has insisted this is also not an option.

The ardfheis, which takes place at the RDS, will also hear calls for the party to field a candidate in the presidential election which is scheduled to take place late next year.

Mr Martin has said that President Michael D Higgins retained his full support, but members of his party have divided views. Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has expressed a desire to run if there is an election.

On the issue of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which places the life of the unborn on an equal footing to that of the mother, there are two conflicting motions on the agenda, highlighting the deep divisions within the party on the issue of abortion.

The ardfheis will be asked to support a woman’s right to choose in the forthcoming referendum and to give women access to all possible options without the need to travel out of the jurisdiction.

Separate motion

A separate motion will call on Fianna Fáil to oppose any attempt to diminish the constitutional rights of the unborn.

Other motions to be debated over the two-day conference include organisational proposals to end church-gate collections, preventing a practice where candidates cannot contest selection conventions because of their gender and the requirement to meet quotas, and to place new restrictions on persons who leave the party and seek to return at a later date.

The ardfheis will also call on party leadership to ensure there is no increase in the property tax between now and 2019, to reduce the VAT rate on building materials and to restore town councils.