A future coalition between Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin was unlikely, but not impossible, senior figures in both parties indicated yesterday.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny declined to rule out a possible coalition with Sinn Féin, though he said he did not envisage such a scenario arising in the near future.
Mr Kenny was reacting to remarks from Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who this week raised the prospect of the party entering government after the next election as a junior coalition partner.
Mr Kenny was repeatedly asked about Ms McDonald’s comments at a briefing with political correspondents. “I said I wouldn’t do business with Fianna Fáil so, depending on the result you gave as a member of the electorate, politicians have to work with the result,” the Taoiseach said.
Speaking before a live audience at The Irish Times politics podcast last night, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar expressed similar sentiments.
“I can’t see it, I wouldn’t seek a mandate for it and I think our policies are so far apart that it wouldn’t be possible.
“What I do know though going into the last general election is – if I remember correctly – we ruled out going into coalition with Fianna Fáil and subsequently offered a coalition with them and we ruled out dealing with any Independents and ended up dealing with quite a few of them, so I now know we are a democracy if I didn’t know that before and it’s actually the public and the people who decide the make-up of the next government but [I] absolutely do not envisage and do not seek a mandate for a coalition with Sinn Féin.”
In an interview in today's Irish Times, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says the party's position on ruling out coalition could easily be overturned by another ardfheis.
“The party’s position is that any decision to go into government is an ardfheis decision,” Mr Adams says.
A spokesman for Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said his position had not changed since he had ruled out government with Sinn Féin before the last election.
Others in his party were not as emphatic. Galway West’s Éamon Ó Cuív, while calling such discussions “idle speculation”, said: “Never say yes, or never say no. As the fella says, with the way the world is at the moment, who’d put a bet against anything?”
Fianna Fáil TD for Louth, Declan Breathnach, said it would be incumbent on all parties to form a government, depending on the Dáil arithmetic after the next general election.