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Ó Caoláin calls for party to keep options open on coalition

3 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Dáil Group Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin speaking in opposition to Rún 116 Coalition

On behalf of the Ard Chomhairle I urge delegates to oppose Rún 116 and to retain our existing strategy on Coalition.

In the wake of a General Election it will be for you the membership of Sinn Féin to decide whether we enter any Coalition arrangement with another party or parties.

We all know the record of Fianna Fáil and many motions on the Clár of this year’s Ard Fheis highlight their disastrous failures in Government. We have no illusions about what they represent.

The issue for Sinn Féin is twofold: Firstly, whether any of the other parties, in the wake of a General Election, can measure up to the policy commitments we require. Secondly, whether entering a coalition would enhance our political strength and advance our struggle for Irish unity and equality. We would have to satisfy ourselves that the answer to both of those questions would be ‘yes’ before coalition could even be considered.

But that’s not the issue for this Ard Fheis. The people have yet to speak in the General Election. We are going to the people seeking a mandate to implement Sinn Féin policies – and we want to implement those policies in Government.

We are not in this business to get our hands on Cabinet posts for the sake of them. We want to bring about change and real improvement in the lives of the people we represent throughout Ireland. There is no point in participating in government otherwise.

There is a mighty effort in the establishment media to present the General Election as a contest between Pat and Enda on one side and Bertie and Mary on the other. It was all going well until Pat said he might consider crossing the floor in the ballroom of romance and taking Bertie’s hand.

 The elephant in the room that the establishment media refuses to acknowledge is that a Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition is a more likely outcome of the General Election than the Coalition of the Confused.

That Coalition of the Confued would a very odd rainbow indeed. A blue Fine Gael. A slightly pink Labour Party. And a Green Party that’s turning yellow because it doesn’t mind being taken for granted by the other two.

What we need to do is to get the debate back to the real issues – health, housing education, transport, advancing the peace process and the all-Ireland agenda. Sinn Féin has the radical and relevant policies to bring about real change and real progress.

So let’s not relegate ourselves to the sidelines in the run up to the General Election. Let’s keep our party and our policies in the spotlight. Affirm our political platform and goals and restate time and time again what others must do to measure up.

Don’t deny yourselves the satisfaction of possibly rejecting Bertie’s overtures to Sinn Féin. Don’t rule out the sweet taste of us rejecting them.

Finally and most importantly: Get out there in your constituencies and elect a bigger team of Sinn Féin TDs that will really shake up politics in this State.



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