During the Brexit/Irish Border crisis recently I suggested, somewhat light-heartedly, that FG Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s opposition to a hard Border was so SF-friendly that it made the inconceivable, an FG-SF coalition government (sans Gerry Adams of course), seem not too far-fetched.
It appears from this article in the Irish edition of The Sun that others are having similar thoughts. Still, it is far too early in the game to tell (Gerry hasn’t even quit yet or given us time to judge whether he has really left the political stage).
Even so, an interesting straw in the wind.
A FINE Gael TD has left the door open for a coalition with Sinn Fein after the next general election, saying: “Anything could happen.”
Deputy Kate O’Connell said yesterday that Mary Lou McDonald, tipped to replace Gerry Adams as leader, was a friend and a “very capable lady”.
So far Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has ruled out talking to Sinn Fein about forming a future Government.
FF leader Micheal Martin has said the same. But a number of Fianna Fail TDs have indicated they’re open to striking a deal with the Shinners.
When quizzed if such a coalition could happen, FG Deputy O’Connell responded: “It is a numbers game. I don’t see a confidence-and-supply arrangement ever again.
“There are huge difficulties there. It was necessary at the time. I commend Fianna Fail for acting responsibly. I don’t see it as a way to govern.
“As for Fine Gael and Sinn Fein, anything could happen.”
Fine Gael’s Kate O’Connell made the comment.
She told RTE Radio’s Claire Byrne: “Sinn Fein have a mandate, they have a good whack (of TDs) so you have to respect that people voted for them.”
In November, Sinn Fein passed a motion at their Ardfheis allowing it to enter Government in the Republic for the very first time as a minority party.
But Taoiseach Varadkar has ruled out doing any business with them, saying: “The faces in Sinn Fein might be getting younger but their policies are the same.”
Deputy O’Connell is more receptive to a deal and indicated recent Brexit negotiations may have changed the stance of some in Fine Gael.
She said: “The arrival of Brexit has changed the way we look at the island of Ireland. Both Taoiseach and Tanaiste feel strongly about representing both sides of the Border.
“I consider Mary Lou a friend of mine. We are from the same area. I see her as a very capable lady.”
Her comments have infuriated colleagues in the parliamentary party with one labelling them “a disgrace”.
The Fine Gael TD said: “We knew she was keen on the Me Fein party but now we know she’s also in favour of Sinn Fein. On both counts, she’s alone within the party.
“Her decision to even contemplate going near SF after their track record of bullying women is extraordinary. They leave a bad taste in the mouth of ordinary decent people.”