Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.03 23 Feb 2020


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Mary Lou McDonald says Sinn Féin will hold a series of public rallies as the party 'steps up' talks on government formation.

She says the events are being organised over the next two weeks as she wants to bring "the conversation about a government for change to the people".

Rallies will be held in Cork, Dublin, Newry, Cavan and Galway - with Ms McDonald, Pearse Doherty and Eoin Ó Broin to attend the first of the events in Cork on Monday night.

Speaking on Newstalk's On The Record, Sinn Féin TD and justice spokesperson Martin Kenny suggested his party has a long history of communicating directly with its grassroots supporters - and these rallies are part of that.

He observed: "There's nothing particularly unusual about [the rallies] - we've had on numerous occasions public events where we communicate with the public, where we talk to people about what's going on... people who vote for us, and people who don't vote for us can often come to these meetings.

"It's not something new that we do - it may be somewhat unusual that the issue on this occasion is about the formation of government."

Reacting to Sinn Féin's announcement about the upcoming Sinn Féin events, Fine Gael TD and outgoing Health Minister Simon Harris said: "Did we not have this already - it’s called an election.

"Maybe they’d be better spending time trying to actually form their socialist republican government or tell the truth if they can’t do so."

Talks

It comes as talks on government formation are due to step up a gear among all the parties.

The leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are to hold 'exploratory talks' in the coming days, with both Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar having repeatedly ruled out working with Sinn Féin.

Ms McDonald, meanwhile, is to meet with the Green Party tomorrow and other parties over the course of the week as she continues efforts towards forming a left-wing government.

Left-wing parties and independents hold just over 60 Dáil seats together, making it challenging for them to achieve the 81 votes necessary for a majority.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has told the Sunday Independent it will be "difficult" for a government with Sinn Féin to be formed given the other two largest parties' opposition to working with them.

Any government will likely require the involvement of two of the three largest parties - either in coalition or with a 'confidence and supply' style arrangement.

However, Ms McDonald reiterated on Saturday that she is determined to deliver on what she called the "desire of the people" for a change.

She said: "In the coming week Sinn Féin will be stepping up our engagements with other parties to bring a Government for Change about.

"Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael's plan to carve-up political power and to block change is a rejection of what people voted for."

Yesterday, the Social Democrats confirmed they would definitely not support a Fianna Fáil - Fine Gael government.

Speaking to Newstalk, co-leader Catherine Murphy said they were "not ruling anything out" other than a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael combination - suggesting that would be "more of the same".

Main image: File photo of Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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