If one were to believe the country’s right-leaning press, from newspapers to current affairs’ websites, Sinn Féin is a party in stasis, one which has reached its natural electoral ceiling with no hope of expanding its centre-left message among socially liberal but fiscally conservative middle-class voters. Despite its regional hegemony over the nationalist vote in the north-east, we are told that SF is not just bogged down nationally but will be going in reverse at the next general election. Yet for a group allegedly suffering an existential crisis, the party of Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill seems to be in surprisingly buoyant form. The obsession of its rivals with its future plans and alliances perhaps soothes the polling angst.
Fianna Fail will not be going into government “in any form” with Sinn Fein, the party’s leader said yesterday.
In recent months there has speculation that there could be a link up with Sinn Fein but the Fianna Fail leader ruled this out.
Mr Martin said: “We’re not engaging with Sinn Fein in terms of going into Government with them in any shape or form.
“Being sensible about it, it’s simply not going to happen and never was going to happen.”
Being sensible about it, every voter in the country, north or south, knows that sooner or later a post-election Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin coalition of some type is going to appear. It is no longer a question of “if” but rather of “when”. Even the Labour Party understands that the electoral game is up as SF threatens its remaining scraps of electoral territory; and its now tenuous position as a potential minority partner in government. As the Irish Independent reports:
Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he finds it easier to envisage a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin coalition after the next election – than a Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin sharing of government.
Does the Wexford TD really believe that the fantastical suggestion of a FG-SF deal following the next general election will deter existing or future voters for either party to the benefit of his own and FF? As political stratagems go that is a pretty desperate, and convoluted, one even for Howlin.