Current Affairs Politics

Simon Coveney: Ireland Needs A Sinn Féin-Led Opposition?

A rather odd report from Extra.ie, the tabloid-style Irish news and culture website, on a recent appearance by Simon Coveney, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, on RTÉ Radio 1.

The Cork TD was speaking on RTE Radio 1 when the host, Sean O’Rourke, read out a text from a listener asking why Mr Coveney didn’t engage with Sinn Fein as he was ‘sounding like a socialist’.

The Tanaiste of the caretaker Government cited ‘incompatibility’ and a lack of opposition as a reason for avoiding Sinn Fein in formation talks.

He said: ‘What I’m committed to doing within Fine Gael, and it’s my job to lead the negotiation on behalf of our party, is to work with other parties that I believe are compatible and can work with us around a cabinet table to make the decisions that need to be made.

‘I don’t believe that we can sustain a government for four or five years, effectively without an opposition in a way that’s in the interests of Ireland,’ concluded Mr Coveney

On Tuesday, the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar announced that there would be no second election and Extra.ie revealed that Fine Gael had not given up hope on the Green Party joining them in a coalition.

So is Simon Coveney saying that a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-led coalition government, perhaps with the inclusion or support of minority parties like the Greens, Labour and the Soc Dems, would need a Sinn Féin-led Opposition to, essentially, keep it in line?

That must be wrong.

11 comments on “Simon Coveney: Ireland Needs A Sinn Féin-Led Opposition?

  1. Nope! As I read it, he first cites incompatibility with SF as the reason. He then mentions the opposition thing as a way of saying that everybody can’t be in government. The second point about opposition actually touches on something critical to the proper functioning of a liberal democracy, i.e. that there is an opposition to hold the governing party(ies) to account. Whether that was in his mind when he mentioned it is another thing all together.

    • Sorry, my top line isn’t very clear. It should read: “Nope! As I read it, he first cites incompatibility with SF as the reason they won’t share power with them.”

  2. Peter Dorley

    FG support up to 34% Red Sea Poll 29th March, SF seems to be in isolation

  3. So SF fit for opposition but not government. Hmmm..

    • I’m very far removed from supporting Coveney, but I really don’t see what the issue is here. He was simply being factual.
      They, FG, FF et al, have the power to exclude SF from government by refusing to share office with them on grounds of incompatibility. However, FG and the rest have no power to determine who is in opposition. If FG et al succeed in forming some hotchpotch of a government, SF will by default form the opposition.

      • I see what you mean, and that is a legitimate reading of it, but… it is curious if part of his argument is that SF will provide a strong opposition.

  4. Peter Dorley at April 8th.

    Looking from across the water one sees an absolute democratic deficit when the existing party of power, now eclipsed by Sinn Fein in a democratic poll, as opposed to an opinion poll, is being excluded from power.

    The people spoke and for many spoke clearly. The two existing establishment parties who previously had been historical mutual enemies do no good whatsoever trying to coalesce to exclude Sinn Fein. People want change. That is what the last election said. That is why SinnFein support soared whilst FG and FF’s crumbled. Had SF fielded more candidates they would have taken more seats.

    Casting them to the margins of opposition will not work and will be the end of FG and possibly FF too if they conspire with FG to exclude SF.

    And if you find that hard to believe take a look over at Scotland where the once mighty Labour Party have been utterly wiped out to the extent of being no more than a fringe party.

  5. gendjinn

    And let the Army Council control the official opposition of the Republic? I am both shocked and dismayed at such reckless behaviour from FG. Surely protecting the integrity of the Republic from Gerry Adams being consulted is far more important than any pandemic?

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