Furore over FF-SF coalition report
There has been a strong reaction to suggestions of a possible
Sinn Fein coalition with Fianna Fail following the next general
Earlier this week, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the
South, Dermot Ahern, pointed up the possibility that Sinn Fein
could soon be in government in both parts of Ireland --
including a Dublin coalition government.
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has said if his party held the
balance of power in the Dublin parliament, the Sinn Fein
membership, rather than the leadership, would determine the
Cork East TD Ned O'Keeffe, a former junior minister, said he
backed Dermot Ahern's view that there would come a time when
Sinn Fein would be in government in the 26 Counties with other
parties and "conceivably with Fianna Fail".
Mr O'Keeffe said he recognised Sinn Fein's growing role in
southern society following their impressive performance in last
June's local elections.
"Sinn Fein has a role in a government of the future. We can't go
down the road of being old fashioned and out of date," Mr
O'Keeffe, a public representative for over two decades, said.
He admitted that Fianna Fail had suffered because of Sinn Fein's
growing support in the last election and that the party was
doing more work on the ground than many others.
"We have peace in our land and the economy has benefited from
the peace. There's no good burying our head in the sand," Mr
"We must look ahead and be progressive. We in Fianna Fail have
gone into coalition with other parties in the past - the mould
has been broken.
"I can look at Sinn Fein here in the [Dail] and identify them
clearly with a lot of what we do. They come across as decent
reasonable people. They've had their difficulties in the past
but that's all behind them and they're now a progressive
constitutional party," he added.
Mr McGuinness said Sinn Fein would form a government on the
island of Ireland "at some stage".
"We are working for that day," he said. "I think the remarks
Dermot Ahern are an acknowledgment of that reality and of the
tremendous growth of Sinn Fein's vote from Kerry to Belfast to
Cork to Derry.
"If at some stage in the future, as a result of a general
election in the South, that we have the required numbers we have
made it clear what we intend to do. It will be discussed by our
party membership. We will decide in a democratic fashion."
A Labour Party spokesman said Mr Dermot Ahern's remarks "would
appear to indicate a shift in the Fianna Fail position". He
claimed the remarks suggested that Fianna Fail was now preparing
public opinion for an attempt to sell an FF/SF deal because
"Fianna Fail now acknowledges that it cannot be re-elected to
government depending on the PDs alone".
Meanwhile, the current junior coalition partner, the Progressive
Democrats, reacted angrily, claiming Sinn Fein's policies were
"Marxist" and would scare off international corporations. Sinn
Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain described the PD response as
The Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, insisted that there should be
"a very clear space" between the end of the IRA and the
acceptance of Sinn Fein as a party of government in the South.
Asked could he see Fine Gael in government with Sinn Fein, he
said: I don't see it under any circumstances." O Caolain said
that there was a "coalition of the confused" in the Dublin
parliament but that Mr Kenny was "permanently confused".