Simon Coveney once again rules out coalition government with Sinn Féin
"I don't think that government would work."
Outgoing Tánaiste Simon Coveney has reiterated Fine Gael's opposition to forming a coalition government with Sinn Féin, noting that the two parties are unlikely to meet in the middle on policies.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday evening, Coveney acknowledged Sinn Féin's surge in popularity while sounding a stern note of caution regarding a potential future partnership.
"They have a mandate. They have a significant mandate and of course we respect that vote," Coveney began.
"But that's a different thing to trying to put a government together that can last and that is compatible and that can make decisions for the country in a coherent way. I've said many times that I just don't believe that the policy platform that Sinn Féin are outlining and the approach and the policies that Fine Gael have committed to are compatible.
"I don't think that government would work. I think the Taoiseach has described it as a marriage that will be forced rather than one that will work. I think we have responsibility to follow through on the commitments that we made during this campaign and we'll do that."
Coveney went on to underline that Fine Gael's priority is to attempt to form a government that doesn't involve either Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil, but conceded that "the numbers don't look like that's going to be possible".
In response, former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams noted his disappointment in what he described on Twitter as a "misguided effort to wrong foot Fianna Fáil".
"I'm disappointed that Simon Coveney says Fine Gael won't talk to Sinn Féin," Adams said.
"Obviously a misguided effort to wrong foot Fianna Fáil. But I thought he was better than that. Incompatible policies, fair enough. But has he learned nothing from the DUP? Sinn Féin voters lesser voters?"
I’m disappointed that Simon Coveney says Fine Gael won’t talk to Sinn Féin. Obviously a misguided effort to wrong foot Fianna Fáil. But I thought he was better than that. Incompatible policies fair enough. But has he learned nothing from the DUP? Sinn Féin voters lesser voters?
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) February 9, 2020
On Sunday evening, Coveney's colleague and outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was finally confirmed as a member of Ireland's 33rd Dáil following five counts in his constituency of Dublin West.
In contrast, Cork South-Central representative Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire topped the Dublin West poll at the first time of asking, exceeding the required quota by almost 4,000 votes and boasting the distinction of becoming the first TD to be officially elected in this campaign.
At time of writing on Sunday night, Sinn Féin have 25 elected TDs and counting.