Fianna Fail say no to Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin say no to Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, Fine Gael say - well, maybe...
As the results bear out the exit polls it is becoming ever more apparent that there will be a major task at hand to form any sort of functioning government in the coming weeks – yet the major parties continue to rule out potential alliances.
Fianna Fáil are the over-performers of the day, looking set to close the gap on Fine Gael to just a handful of seats. Meanwhile Sinn Féin look likely to end up in the low 20s, with a huge number of independents and smaller parties making up the balance. As expected, there is no obvious partnership emerging.
The only two-party alliance that could potentially form a majority is a grand coalition of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – but Micheal Martin unequivocally ruled that possibility out while speaking with Newstalk.
“We’re not going to say something yesterday and change it today,” he said.
Mr Martin also dismissed talk of a partnership with Sinn Féin, saying it was ruled out “absolutely.”
What is clear from the disparate results, Martin said, is that “people wanted this government out and wanted a change of government."
Sinn Féin for their part have made no change to their stance on backing either party.
Party vice-president Mary Lou McDonald looks almost certain to win election in Dublin Central, having come to the verge of the quota on the first count.
Speaking with Pat Kenny shortly after the first count at the RDS, McDonald said her party would not back a Fine Gael or Fianna Fáíl Taoiseach.
The stance was “not posturing,” she said.
“It is simply that we know from experience and witnessing it firsthand that Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael in the driving seat is bad news for the vast majority of people across the State.”
When pushed on the potential makeup of the new Dáil, Ms McDonald said she expects to nominate party leader Gerry Adams for Taoiseach, but makes no predictions as to the shape the next government will take.
“None of us can exactly say how the mathematics of this situation will lie,” she said.
Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald, the Minister for Justice, did offer some hints of acceptance of a future coalition with once unfathomable partners.
“The people have expressed their views and the people have spoken. We have to see now where in terms of govt that leads us.
“I think there is an obligation on all parties to see how that is expressed in a stable govt.”
Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney has refused to rule out a coalition with Fianna Fail, but has said “it would be a very difficult choice.”
Similar to party colleague Ms Fitzgerald, Mr Coveney refused to rule out a deal.
“We need to have an honest discussion to see what Fine Gael can do to respect the choice people have made,” he said.
“I think that will be a very difficult process. There is no obvious stable government.
“That isn’t an easy match-up in my view, both (parties) feel they should be bigger than the other.
“But I can’t rule out anything. I’d say it’s a very difficult choice,” he added.