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Sinn Fein 'could have role in Irish coalition'

THE chief whip of the Republic's Labour party has said Sinn Fein could have a role in a future Irish coalition administration.

Emmet Stagg, pictured, said his party could form a possible link-up with Sinn Fein some time in the future.

He is the first senior figure from Labour, one of the three main Dail parties, to envisage such a role for Sinn Fein.

Responding to the comments, Sinn Fein said Labour should now pull out of the current coalition with Fine Gael.

Mr Stagg has been an outspoken critic of republican

violence, although his brother Frank Stagg was an IRA member who died on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, West York-shire, in 1976.

He said he had long believed that a normalisation of Irish politics would involve a distinction between groups on the right and the left, and described a link between his party and Sinn Fein as "a real possibility".

"I am very happy that Sinn Fein has stopped killing people and taken up normal politics. They have done that, and they are entitled to the respect that their mandate gives them," he told the Irish Times.

"I could foresee Sinn Fein and the Labour Party joining together in some form. There is no reason to believe that that would not be the case, particularly if the social democrats in Sinn Fein continue to hold the upper hand.

"They are a broad church (like any party but) I would see that as a real possibility in the future."

Sinn Fein deputy Pearse Doherty said if anyone in Labour was really seeking a new form of politics, they needed to pull out of the coalition with Fine Gael.

"Let the Labour Party pull out of this coalition and then the possibility of cooperation among parties of the left can be looked at realistically," he said.

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