Solidarity-PBP claim Sinn Féin 'lurching to the right' and rule out coalition

Solidarity-People Before Profit has ruled out any potential future deal with Sinn Féin unless Gerry Adams's party scraps the possibility of forming a government with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, writes Irish Examiner Political Correspondent Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

The six-TD strong political group outlined the position at its pre-Dáil think-in on Wednesday, claiming Sinn Féin is lurching to the right and risks becoming a "mudguard" similar to Labour in power unless it rules out any coalition with "establishment" parties.

Speaking during a media briefing which also heard calls for a referendum on the right to a home and warnings for Government not to bring back bed sits, TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Ruth Coppinger said they are no longer interested in a deal with Sinn Féin.

Despite previously suggesting a broad left coalition could be possible in the future, the TDs - who were flanked by colleagues Gino Kenny, paul Murphy, Brid Smith and Mick Barry - said Sinn Féin's recent openness to a deal with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil means Gerry Adams's party can no longer be considered in any deal.

"We think it's a big mistake for Sinn Féin to talk now about the possibility of propping up Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael," said Mr Boyd Barrett.

"Having a left policy programme and propping up Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael are mutually exclusive, so we think Sinn Féin are ruling themselves out if they're looking in that direction.

"We're not a mudguard for Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, and we think Sinn Féin are mistaken in considering that outcome," he said, a view repeated by Ms Coppinger who said Sinn Féin has "moved to the right" in recent months.

"We want Sinn Féin to exclude the possibility of a coalition with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour. It's becoming more obvious that they are more willing to do that, whether as a majority or minority partner, and that's just getting back into the realms of what Labour ended up like in government," she said.

The comments would appear to limit the strength of a broad left grouping in the next Dáil due to the fact Sinn Féin current has 23 seats and is highly likely to be the largest left-of-centre party in the next parliament.

However, the remarks should also be seen in the context that both Solidarity-PBP and Sinn Féin are competing for many of the same potentially winnable seats nationwide, and that Sinn Féin strategists believe their party must officially remain open to entering government if it wants to avoid claims it is a protest party.

Meanwhile, Solidarity-PBP have also confirmed they will call for a referendum on the right to a home on the first day of the Dáil term next Wednesday in a bid to address the homelessness, rent and housing crises.

The move was announced as the political grouping insisted bed sits must not be allowed to return as they are a "red herring" that ignores the need for social housing, and as Ms Coppinger called for Government to ignore EU financial rules to ensure money is ploughed into the sector.

Solidarity-PBP - which is aiming to win at least two more seats in the next election - also said it will focus on the eighth amendment campaign in the coming months in order to ensure the citizen's assembly's recommendations are fully enacted.

While a two-page press release announcing its priorities yesterday did not include any mention of water charges, Mr Boyd Barrett said the party remains committed to blocking any return of fees "through the back door".

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