Sinn Fein leader hits out at ‘old boys’ club’ of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael

The prospect of a second election is on the horizon.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has criticised what she described as the “old boys’ club of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael” as they have both refused to enter government talks with her party.

Ireland’s largest party Fianna Fail agreed not to go into coalition with Sinn Fein following a four-hour meeting of its parliamentary party on Thursday.

The decision is likely to stop Sinn Fein entering power for the first time, as their leader Mary Lou McDonald said forming a coalition without them or Fine Gael would be “very, very tricky”.

Speaking in Dublin on Friday morning, Ms McDonald said: “Any suggestion that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael together suggest change is farcical – transparently farcical.

“I think it is actually quite disgraceful that the old boys’ club of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael believe that they can set aside the democratic mandate of Sinn Fein and the electorate.”

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have repeatedly ruled out going into government with Sinn Fein, as talks continue this week to try to form a coalition government.

Fianna Fail won the most seats with 38, but Sinn Fein won 37 seats and the highest proportion of first preference votes following Saturday’s general election.

On Friday morning, a Sinn Fein TD said it will be impossible for the party to form a coalition government without the support of either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.

Sinn Fein TD Eoin O Broin told RTE radio Sinn Fein is still open to talking to all parties but said there are big policy differences between Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail.

He said: “On Tuesday morning the broad progressive left had 66 TDs and that is not enough for government.”

“What we have been saying since then is we want a government led by progressive left policies.”

When asked how Sinn Fein can form a government without the two largest parties, he said: “You can’t.

“The most irresponsible thing to do is what Micheal Martin has said – to say he won’t talk to a party that now represents 24% of the electorate.”

Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin told RTE news on Thursday that he would not rule out another general election.

He said: “In terms of the future, I can’t be certain how all of this is going to work. It will be very difficult.

“I would not rule out another general election. This is going to be so difficult.”

Mr O Broin criticised Mr Martin for ruling other parties in and out of potential government talks.

“If last week Micheal Martin was saying he wasn’t going to talk to Fine Gael and this week he saying he is, then very clearly Micheal Martin changes his mind on these matters.”

A number of talks are continuing between the different parties on Friday.

The public voted for change, we said we weren’t going in with Fine Gael, we said we were for change, and that there was a need for a change of governmentEamon O Cuiv, Fianna Fail

Fianna Fail TD Eamon O Cuiv said he is opposed to the party’s plan to go into government with Fine Gael and the Green party after it ruled out Sinn Fein.

Speaking to RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta on Friday, Mr O Cuiv said: “Fianna Fail intends to go into coalition with Fine Gael and the Greens. If you look at the figures, that’s the only option that gives you a majority.

“I’m against that, completely against that, and I made that known at the meeting.

“The public voted for change, we said we weren’t going in with Fine Gael, we said we were for change, and that there was a need for a change of government.”

Meanwhile, Ms McDonald said she had a 15-minute phone call with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin on Friday evening.

In a statement, she said: “I told Micheal Martin that people who voted for Sinn Fein and those who voted more widely for change are angry that Fianna Fail is denying them the respect of sitting down with the party that represents them.”

“I will write again to Micheal Martin in the coming days to set out the substance of our position and have asked him to do the same.”