Don’t let Leo sneak back in! Urgent plea for rival coalition as Varadkar nears victory

The leader of Sinn Fein told party members in a video conference on Tuesday she remains ready to hold talks with other parties, saying the “doors are still open”. Her plea comes as formal discussions on forming a coalition are due to start this week between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party. Acting Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has said he is confident a government can be in place by next month which would last four to five years.

But as Mr Varadkar and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin work to try to secure a deal with Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Ms McDonald warned “the numbers are not there for anyone”.

Sinn Fein’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty told the Irish Examiner any coalition without his party “would not be legitimate”.

The nationalists won the popular vote in the February general election, winning 37 seats.

He said: “We still want to lead the next government, we don’t believe this is necessarily over, no one would be bold enough to suggest these talks are the talks that would lead to a government, there could be many twists in the road from now to then, and there’s no sign they’ll be successful in getting it passed by two thirds of the Green party membership either.

“Our colleagues have a lot of respect for Green Party members and councillors, and the decision is for them, but a lot of people would be surprised if the Greens were fooled by the type of talk coming from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael given their record.

“It’s up to them, but if I was a Green member I’d be asking why this 7% promise wasn’t in the first response.”

Mr Doherty was referring to the Greens’ key demand that a commitment be made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 7 percent each year to 2030.

The group have said the issue is a red line for entering into government.

The environmentally friendly Greens are also calling for more investment in infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians as opposed to roads.

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Mr Doherty accused Fianna Fail and Fine Gael of trying to present themselves as socialists.

He said the centre-right parties, long seen as the two big beasts of Irish politics, had adopted policies which Sinn Fein had fought for.

But he warned the Greens not to take their utterances at face value.

“I’m in politics long enough to know that’s not the case,” he added.

Talks between the three parties will kick off on Thursday, three months after voters went to the polls.

Mr Varadkar has told his colleagues he is “determined” to make the meetings successful.

On Wednesday the Irish Times reported that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael had offered written assurance to the Greens on the 7 percent pledge.

The two parties said they were “happy to confirm that a new government comprising our three parties will commit to developing measures to achieve an average 7 per cent per annum reduction in annual emissions for the next decade”.

Leader of the Greens Mr Ryan said an outline of the commitment could be in place as early as next Tuesday.

He is calling for new energy projects and retrofitting of buildings among other measures to meet the target.

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