‘Don’t despair’, urges McDonald, as Martin set to become Taoiseach

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Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has urged voters to “not give in” following a decision by the parliamentary parties of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party to support the formation of a coalition government in Dublin which would see FF leader Micheál Martin become the next Taoiseach.

Following a deal by the party leaders, the three parliamentary parties have announced that they have backed a draft Programme for Government, which will now go to the members of each party for their endorsement or rejection.

Mary Lou McDonald attacked Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin for excluding her party from the coalition talks.

The Sinn Féin leader said that a right-wing government does not represent the change “that people voted for in February” and said it would “protect the status quo”.

“Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin set about excluding Sinn Féin from government talks and, in doing so, they excluded the demand for change that came from the people. Grassroots members of the Green Party know this is true. Grassroots members of Fianna Fáil also know this is true.”

On Monday afternoon, Mr Martin, Mr Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan signed off on a well-flagged deal. The document promises a number concessions to the centre-left Green Party, but many have already been criticised for rehashing existing policy plans or being tokenistic.

Addressing party supporters and progressives generally, Ms McDonald said “many people are disappointed watching Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil pushing back change.

“Many might feel like giving up on change. I know you are fed up of seeing the same old parties grabbing power to suit themselves. It’s okay to be fed up at times.”

But she added: “I urge you not to give up. Do not be disheartened by those who want to have everything their own way. Do not turn-off or tune-out. Do not be defeated.”

Despite his party languishing in the low teens in terms of party support, Micheál Martin, a veteran of four disgraced Fianna Fáil governments, is incongruously set to become the next Taoiseach. Leo Varadkar will be his Tánaiste, before the two rotate the positions in December 2022.

The deal requires a tricky two-thirds majority support of the Green Party membership. Tonight 13 members of its 17-strong parliamentary party gave their approval.

There have been rumblings in Fianna Fáil, as over 50 councillors launched a campaign to “defeat” the newly agreed programme for government.

But barring a surprise over the coming weeks, Sinn Féin now looks set to become the main party of opposition in the Dublin parliament.

Ms McDonald today laid down a marker when she said her party “will not allow Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to waste the potential, the possibilities and the aspirations of our people.

“There is a better way and a fairer way. That means putting people and communities first. Sinn Féin will defend the change that the people voted for. Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for workers and families.”

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