Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said the party is open to forming a coalition with Labour if it secures enough votes in the forthcoming election.
Mr Adams comments come the day after Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore appeared to rule out forming a government with Sinn Fein.
Speaking this morning Mr Adams said his party “wants to be in government” and was capable of compromising with other parties.
“We are in government in the North (and) any party that is about the type of political changes that we’re about, and which we have the vision and the imagination for, needs to have the hands on the levers of political power,” he said in an interview broadcast on RTE radio.
“We’re involved in a historic compromise in the North which is actually functioning so we know about the art of politics and the art of compromise,” Mr Adams added.
The Sinn Fein president rejected Mr Gilmore’s claims the general election would be primarily between the Labour Party and Fine Gael.
“The only parties which are going to form a government, and it’s obvious there is going to be a coalition government of some sorts, are those who have a mandate. No party at this point has a mandate so what’s the election going to be about?
“Eamon Gilmore talks on about it being almost a done deal, that it is going to be a beauty contest between himself and Enda Kenny but there needs to be much more than that though,” he said.
“The difference between us and the Labour leadership and the leadership of other parties is that they are a mix of the same old, same old,” Mr Adams added.
He repeated his call for root and branch reform of the political system in order to produce “a genuinely open and accountable form of government”.
Mr Adams said Sinn Fein offered a “real political alternative and proposes reducing the exchequer deficit in a fair and balanced way, stimulating the economy, reforming the tax system and protecting those on low and average income”.
The Sinn Fein president, who is to quit his West belfast seat at Westminster to contest the Louth constituency in the forthcoming election to the Dail, said both Fine Gael and Labour “missed the point completely” when they talked of renegotiating the EU-IMF bailout deal if elected to government.
He admitted there was a “huge” gap between Sinn Fein and Labour over the bailout deal, stressing that it was only his party which was prepared to “break the link between the private banking debt and the sovereign debt.”
“We do believe that sovereign debt has to be dealt with and that there is a responsibility to deal with that. But there is no responsibility on Irish citizens to pay for the debt which has been incurred by private banks.”
Nonetheless, Mr Adams said he believed a deal could be done with Labour to establish a left-leaning coalition.
“When you can do business with Ian Paisley, you can do business with anyone...but it has to be on the basis of a programme for Government (which) has to be vested with citizens rights, and vested in a genuine programme of reform,” he said.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Gilmore said this year’s election would provide the first opportunity in the history of the State to choose a government that was not led by either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael. However, he ruled out entering a coalition with Sinn Fein, saying the numbers did not add up.