Sinn Féin would want Irish unification plan in any government deal

Adams follows McDonald in ruling out supporting minority government

Gerry Adams: he described confidence and supply deals such as the one between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as “fundamentally dishonest”. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Gerry Adams: he described confidence and supply deals such as the one between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as “fundamentally dishonest”. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

 

A future coalition government involving Sinn Féin must have a strategy for Irish unification, party leader Gerry Adams has indicated.

Mr Adams said his party will place an emphasis on housing, the health service and Brexit as part of any post-election negotiations on forming a coalition government.

He has followed his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald in emphatically ruling out the party supporting a minority government from opposition after the next election. The Louth TD described confidence and supply deals such as the one between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as “fundamentally dishonest” and “quasi-democratic”.

“Nobody votes for a confidence and supply deal,” Mr Adams said, but further emphasised that Sinn Féin “wants to be in government to deliver change in the lives of citizens”.

In a statement, he also said Sinn Féin’s aim “is to replace partition with a new agreed Ireland”, adding “you are not going to achieve that with a minority government deal”.

A spokesman for Mr Adams later said that “any Irish government should have a strategy for bringing about unification”. Sinn Féin would want such a strategy included as part of any government deal it entered into.

White paper

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has commissioned a white paper on a united Ireland, which is due to be completed later this year, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Fine Gael should “bring back into use the term ‘United Ireland Party’” as a tagline.

Mr Adams statement that Sinn Féin is open to going into coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil is in effect formalising the party’s move away from its previous stance that it would only enter government as the lead party.

Although such a change in position has to be ratified by a Sinn Féin ardfheis, Mr Adams has said “Sinn Féin is open to negotiating with other parties to deliver a republican programme of government and real change in the lives of citizens”.

“Regardless of what parties are saying today, and depending on what mandates we receive, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will either enter a formal partnership or begin to talk to Sinn Féin.”

Bigger parties

Any moves toward coalition with one of the bigger parties would be highly controversial. Both Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin have strongly ruled out such a prospect, although Mr Martin kept open the prospect of a confidence and supply deal with Sinn Féin.

While some Fianna Fáil TDs are privately open to coalition, others are vehemently opposed to it.

Mr Adams said that confidence and supply deals are “not a runner” for Sinn Féin, and claimed the current minority government has “failed”.

“After the next election Sinn Féin will either be in government implementing a republican policy programme based on the principles of equality and social justice or we will be in clear opposition holding the government to account. We will not be part of the lie that you can be in government and in opposition at the same time.”