Fine Gael prepared to work with Sinn Fein (to unseat Eoin Ryan)?

I didn’t see it at the time, but there was the strangest line yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday from Fine Gael’s director of elections Frank Flannery, saying his party was prepared to work with Sinn Féin at some future point. Paul O’Brien in the Examiner reckons he has unearthed a viable rationale:

Judging by Dermot Ahern’s remarks, Fianna Fáil believes Mr Flannery’s comments are aimed at persuading Fine Gael supporters to give their transfers, or second preferences, to Sinn Féin.

That would be of most value to both Fine Gael and Sinn Féin in the Dublin constituency in the European elections. There, Fine Gael and Labour are both on course to retain their seats, but Fianna Fáil MEP Eoin Ryan is in a desperate battle with Sinn Féin MEP Mary Lou McDonald for the third and final slot, the constituency having lost one seat since 2004.

Fine Gael would be delighted if Mr Ryan lost, knowing it would add to the pressure on Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Few in Fine Gael headquarters would care if Sinn Féin proved the beneficiaries.

Enda is in denial mode; but it would not be the first time an Irish political party found the political latitude to speak out of both sides of the mouth at the one time…

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  • RepublicanStones

    ‘Mr Flannery’s real intention, the analyst suggested, may have been to soak up transfers from Sinn Féin instead.’

    Stranger things have happened, and the blueshirts would doubtless do anything to get a crack at the whip !

  • tál

    As a nationalist even I can see that, from a unionist perspective, FG’s attitude stinks and should they (God forbid) come to power will undoubtedly undermine the peace process.

    I can just see Jimmy Allister now: “so if it’s good enough for Ulster’s Protestants, why is an IRA/Sinn Fein beneath contempt in the view of the Papists in the Republic? Let’s smash IRA/Sinn Fein together.”

  • kensei

    More to the point, at what point does the SF bogeyman recede in the South? Given the various milestones SF have passed by now, is it really unlikely that either major party would include them in a coalition if the numbers fell in a fashion that meant they were required? FF are likely to take serious damage, but if by some miracle they pulled a come back and the difference between opposition and government was 4 SF TDs is Enda really tell everyone he’d prefer opposition? If so I’d seriously question how badly he wants to govern.

    FG have also had both Clann na Poblachta and the Democratic Left as coalition partners in the past, parties with a certain amount of dirty petrol in them.

  • FG have also had both Clann na Poblachta and the Democratic Left as coalition partners in the past, parties with a certain amount of dirty petrol in them.

    You know, I was just thinking that it would probably be easier for FG to be the first major party to bring the Shinners into government in the South than it would be for FF… remember 1948 and all that.

  • Just for the record, Enda Kenny says it’s not true.

  • Greenflag

    kensei,

    ‘ is it really unlikely that either major party would include them in a coalition if the numbers fell in a fashion that meant they were required?’

    Unlikely ? Either main party even Labour would sell their mothers into slavery if the certain reward was government.

    ‘is Enda really tell everyone he’d prefer opposition? If so I’d seriously question how badly he wants to govern.

    Enda always reminds me of a sheep going to negotiate with wolves . Somehow you know that when push comes to shove he’ll end up on the platter as somebody’s main entree . Wolves are /remain wolves . Present circumstances may favour the bend over backwards for unionism party but wolves are not particular whether they start chewing from the rear forward or from the front backward 😉

    FG don’t have the cojones for leading this country and neither do Labour . That does not mean they won’t seriously embarass FF in this election but they’ll have to find a new leader to have a hope of winning the next General Election.

  • George

    Kensei,
    “at what point does the SF bogeyman recede in the South?”

    I would say another decade, which is conveniently enough probably the first time SF will have a chance of power in the Republic.

    Labour and FG are going to wipe the floor with FF next election and if they go into power together then they will have such a huge majority they will be in for two terms.

    The only other option is that Labour get such a large vote in the next election that they are then within touching distance of becoming the largest party themselves, (say between 25% and 30%) at which time the dream of many in Ireland (FF and FG becoming a single party, counterbalanced by a left opposition) becomes a possibility.

    In such a scenario SF could be brought in from the cold to help form the first ever government without a FF or FG(C na nG) presence.

    A Sinn Féin / Labour coalition wins the 2016 general election. Stranger things have happened you know.

  • kensei

    George

    Labour and FG are going to wipe the floor with FF next election and if they go into power together then they will have such a huge majority they will be in for two terms.

    It’ll be painful for FF this time out but the incoming government is going to have a lot of pain. That is going to a long term, and FF have a terrifying habit of coming back. You are probably right, but not sure.

  • tál “As a nationalist even I can see that, from a unionist perspective, FG’s attitude stinks and should they (God forbid) come to power will undoubtedly undermine the peace process.” Curious that you seem to think it is only FG’s attitude that stinks when Dermot Ahern a FF minister said the idea made his stomach churn.

  • An fhirinne gharbh

    Labour have previous on working with Sinn Fein. It was a deal between the two parties that saw Piaras O Dochartaigh take the Shinner’s first Seanad seat, for example. Mutual benefit and all that. Having said that, it would be difficult to exaggerate just how strongly some former Workers Party people in the Labour Party feel about the Provvies. All you have to do is say the name to wind them up to the nth degree.

    The Shinners wanted nothing more than to get into government with Fianna Fail last time round. They may be counting their blessings now that they didn’t get their wish.

  • Mack

    Kensei,

    “at what point does the SF bogeyman recede in the South?”

    I’ve no idea. It’s as much bottom up as top down – i.e. when Frank Flannery’s statement had been published but not Enda Kenny’s rebuttal it came up in conversation with a friend that they were reconsidering voting for FG.

    I think it’s very easy for northerners to underestimate the antipathy that exists. One big difference between the north and the south, imho, is that northern nationalists were (perhaps still are) ‘outsiders’, the state and it’s institutions were / are alien to them, so certain attitudes and behaviours don’t damage electoral chances but enhance them. In the south, the opposite is true, the electorate are largely ‘insiders’ – so for example – An Garda Siochana is their police force and they’re deeply proud of it.

    In the south SF seem to be strongest in the poorest areas, they are the voice of the disaffected and the marginalised. But the vest majority aren’t disaffected and marginalised, so SF’s message needs to become one which reaches out beyond the sink estates. They haven’t reached the point where you would say a vote for SF is aspirational. I.e. I want the best future for my children, therefore I’m going to vote or transfer to SF. There are a lot of SF posters around Dublin at the minute that say “Fight Back”. That about sums it up their predicament, such puglism not only limits their appeal, but as there is a degree of ambivalence as to exactly what they are fighting back against, it may also ensure they remain slightly toxic as potential coalition partners. That said amongst the disaffected ‘outsiders’ in the south, it’s probably a very popular message.

    Finally despite great progress, SF are dogged by news stories that hint at paramilitary activity – e.g. the story about the burning of a Dublin local election candidates car last week. According to the story she’s standing because her brother was killed after an argument with people she claims were linked to the republican movement a number of years ago. In the run up to the last general election The Evening Herald ran a spate of stories connecting the republican movement to criminal activity in Dublin. These kinds of allegations hamstrung the Workers Party for years.

  • Mack

    Mick –

    If that was the FG strategy, it may well back fire. Mary Harney was quick to capitalise today, as a result I suspect some intent on giving FF a bloody nose may very well put Eoin Ryan on the ballot paper above Mary Lou…

    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/harney-battles-to-rescue-ff-struggler-1757153.html

  • You can’t eat a Flag

    Hilarious. According to Greenflag FG doesn’t have the “cojones” to run the country.

    So, does that mean the rest of us should continue to be crucified by Fianna Fail and their cronies so that some nationalists can avoid holding their noses at the thought of the Blueshirts in government.

    Tail wagging the dog comes to mind.