Eight weeks since the general election, no government has yet been formed and possibility of a stable, long-lasting government seems unlikely.
Fianna Fáil has declined to enter into a majority government with Fine Gael, instead favouring to support the latter in a minority government, while Sinn Féin have stood idly by watching on.
Cork East TD, Seán Sherlock this week said that he believes his own party, Labour, did not receive a mandate to go into government and that it is the ‘clear intention’ of the party’s members nationwide to go into opposition – at which point a leadership contest should be held within Labour.
Minister Sherlock also said a minority government, led by Fine Gael and supported by Fianna Fáil, would be ‘unworkable’ as the latter would ‘pull the plug’ at the ‘first sign of a hurdle’.
The Mallow-native was also strongly critical of Sinn Féin’s stance since the election, describing it as ‘absolutely disgraceful’ that they have declined to be involved in the process of forming a government.
Speaking on C103 FM this week, Minister Sherlock commented: “Fianna Fáil are now saying they are going to support a minority Fine Gael. If you look at the numbers, if you look at the 50 Fine Gael TDs and then you’ve got a number of Independents, they are a long way off a majority of 79, which is what sustains a government.
“You could support a minority government if you were Fianna Fáil, to facilitate the election of a Taoiseach, but past behaviour proves that FF, at the first sign of a hurdle, would pull the plug on that.
“What is required now is a stable government, but you have to go into government on the basis that you’ve received a mandate for governance.”
“Fianna Fáil know that people do not want another election at the moment, I think there’s an elaborate game going on to create the impression that they will support some sort of minority arrangement, but I think the reality of that would be just unworkable, you wouldn’t see a sustainable government and it wouldn’t last very long in those circumstances.”
While he acknowledged a ‘school of thought’ within Labour at the moment is that for the party to ‘become relevant again is to be part of the make-up of a government’, he does not share this view and instead believes they should ‘put the party first’ and go into opposition.
Minister Sherlock, on the topic of Sinn Féin, who have been deafeningly silent in the weeks since the election where they scooped 23 seats, said the party’s decision to stay out of government-formation talks is ‘absolutely disgraceful to my mind’.
“What is required now is a stable government, but you have to go into government on the basis that you’ve received a mandate for governance. Fianna Fáil got over 40 seats, Sinn Féin got over 20 and they are off the hook, they’re getting away with it, nobody is questioning Gerry Adams or even the local Sinn Féin TD about what their position is.”
On the topic of Labour leadership, Minister Sherlock said that it is the understanding within the party that if Labour go into opposition once a government is formed, a leadership contest will then take place.
“I don’t feel an undue pressure as a Labour TD to go into government and I certainly feel that the members of our party now feel strongly that we must do at this point in time is go into opposition,” he added.
Sherlock is third favourite with the bookies to become the next Labour leader, at 9/2, behind strong favourite Brendan Howlin at 2/5 and Alan Kelly at 5/2. Joan Burton is 1/3 to vacate the Labour leadership before the end of the year.