Interview with Seán O’Rourke

Fianna Fáil election candidate Mary Hanafin has said she thinks the party could work with Fine Gael in government but would “need to bring them very clearly back on the road to fairness and equality”.

The former government minister’s comments come after party leader Micheál Martin said yesterday that Fine Gael’s policies were too divisive and right wing for a coalition to be formed between the two parties.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Hanafin said her only difficulty was that if there was a coalition between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, the way would be left open for Sinn Féin to become the major party in the future and that “wouldn’t be in the best interest of the country”.

Fianna Fáil considers its coalition options
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Listen: Fianna Fáil considers its coalition options
She said following her party’s Ard Fheis at the weekend, Fianna Fáil had ruled itself out entirely of going into government with Sinn Féin.

Mr Martin, speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme yesterday, said the Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s stated aim of achieving US-style taxes would decimate public services and would hit lower-income groups, while benefitting the wealthiest in society.

Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil, under his leadership, would not be changing its position after the general election, whatever the result.

Meanwhile, Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fáil’s director of elections, ruled out coalition with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin. He told RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke that it was “very credible to rule out coalition with Fine Gael and Sinn Féin”.

He said that it was incumbent on Fianna Fáil to provide the electorate with a clear alternative. He added that to be a partner in government would require Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to move their policies closer together but that their policies and principles are “fundamentally different”.

He also said that Fianna Fáil as a party had ruled out talking to Fine Gael after the election.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, meanwhile, has said there was nothing new in Mr Martin’s Ard Fheis speech except criticism of the Government.

He said Fianna Fáil had put themselves in a very difficult position, as it was clear from what Mr Martin said that the party really wanted to be in opposition.

Mr Noonan said: “If you are a party campaigning to be in opposition, then any promises you make about being in government are idle.

“He [Mr Martin] said they won’t coalesce with Fine Gael or Sinn Féin, and they are only running 67 candidates and an overall majority is 80, so their position does not add up.”