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Mary Lou: SF won't seek power for the sake of it

Valerie Robinson Southern Correspondent

SINN Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has insisted her party will not seek 'power at any price' in the Republic, while Martin McGuinness said the party could be in government in two years time.

The Deputy First Minister was speaking as he arrived with party leader Gerry Adams at the Midlands North West European constituency count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Mr McGuinness told RTE there was a real prospect of Sinn Fein being in government in 2016.

Following the party's successes in local government elections on both sides of the border, Mr McGuinness tweeted: "Watershed elections 2014 - how far we've come & yet a way to go".

The party is on course to triple its council seats and are also set to have at least two seats in the European Parliament.

However, Sinn Fein failed to live up to expectations, securing just over 15 per cent of the first preference votes, compared to the 20-plus per cent indicated in recent opinion polls.

Fianna Fail were on 25 per cent with Fine Gael on 23.8 per cent at yesterday's half way point in the count, while Labour was at around 8 per cent with 'others' taking 28 per cent.

Just half of the electorate turned out to cast their vote on polling day, plus the sway towards Independents cost Sinn Fein, though not heavily.

That said, the party secured significant victories, gaining control of Dublin City Council, which saw the Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn lose his seat for Labour while his party colleague, and fellow Lord Mayor, Catherine Clancy was ousted from Cork City Council.

In order to exercise real influence on local authorities, Sinn Fein will now have to work closely with Independents and smaller parties, who have been the biggest winners this year, securing more than 28 per cent of first preference votes.

On RTE Radio, Mary Lou McDonald said that the party membership would decide whether Sinn Fein would sit in government after the next general election.

"If we area in a position to agree a programme for government that actually delivers the political alternative and delivers real change in people's lives and in Irish political life, of course Sinn Fein would be willing and able to enter into government," Ms McDonald, pictured, said.

However, she warned that the party would not seek power "just for the sake of it".

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the coalition partners had been given a "stark reminder" of people's anger at the ongoing tax hikes and charges, including property tax and water charges.

Mr Kenny also said that the success experienced by Sinn Fein and Independents would bring added responsibilities for them to work within budget limits in the future, adding: "With success comes responsibility."

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