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Fianna Fáil backs Martin to try to form government without Sinn Féin

The Fianna Fáil parliamentary party has agreed that Micheál Martin should seek to try and form a government that excludes Sinn Féin.

“We gave the party leader licence to speak to whoever he needs to speak to, with the exception of Sinn Féin,” Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins said on Thursday.

Fianna Fáil TDs met at Leinster House today for the first time since the general election to discuss coalition options and how the party should proceed after a bruising election result.

Mr Collins said two of the three largest parties will need to co-operate to form a government but said a possible arrangement with Fine Gael was not discussed at any length during a meeting.

Fianna Fáil won 38 seats in the election, Sinn Féin took 37 and Fine Gael 35.

The Fianna Fáil decision to exclude Sinn Féin comes after Mary Lou McDonald challenged Mr Martin to sign up to her party’s programme for change.

Ms McDonald told a meeting in Dublin of newly elected Sinn Féin TDs that she had written to Mr Martin seeking a meeting about government formation.

In the letter Ms McDonald said: “It is my strong belief that there is an onus and responsibility on parties to engage over the coming days to discuss our priorities as we enter a new Dáil term. We need to explore if common platforms exist to underpin a programme for a government for change.”

Mary Lou McDonald going into a party meeting in Buswells Hotel. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Mary Lou McDonald going into a party meeting in Buswells Hotel. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Left-wing government

Ms McDonald said her preference is to form a government without either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.

Ms McDonald said there were “big policy incompatibilities” between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, and her objective was a “government of change”.

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