Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin to 'step up' efforts to form Republic's next government

Sinn Féin TDs Pearse Doherty and Louise O'Reilly are expected to continue their engagement with other parties and independents. Picture by Aine McMahon/PA Wire

SINN Féin has said it will today "step up" efforts to be part of the Republic's next government with further contact with other parties and independent TDs.

Mary Lou McDonald's party yesterday continued its engagement with the Department of Taoiseach and other departments as it seeks to prepare a programme for government that could help it woo potential partners.

However, with both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael continuing to rule out joining a coalition with Sinn Féin, the prospects of a government emerging any time soon are remote.

The party's negotiator Pearse Doherty was sanguine yesterday, stressing Sinn Féin's desire to be part of a "government for change", yet there was no reference to how an administration might be formed.

He said with the help of civil servants, the party was "teasing out" information with a view to formulating policies on the likes of house building and making more hospital beds available.

"Today, what we are looking at is the process in relation to access to that information, how that would be structured over the next number of days which will support our conversations that we're having with other political parties and independents over the next period," he said.

The Donegal TD said talks with other parties would be intensifying.

"It's not just an urgency of having a government, it's an urgency for the change that is needed.

"There are serious issues that are affecting so many people right across the State and they need these resolved.

"People can't sit back and wait two or three months for parties to decide to finish the shadow boxing or the play acting that is happening.

"From Sinn Fein's point of view, we hit the ground running, we are going to continue intensifying these talks, and we will talk to everybody and anybody who is up and willing for that type of change that we believe people gave us a mandate for."

Meanwhile, the Social Democrats, which emerged from the election with six seats, cancelled a meeting with Fine Gael yesterday because of what it described as "game-playing" by the larger party.

On Monday, Fine Gael Leo Varadkar said the consensus in Fine Gael was to go into opposition.

A statement from the Social Democrats said in light of the taoiseach's statement the party was declining to "participate in what is essentially theatrics by Fine Gael".

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