Sinn Fein seeks talks with Fianna Fail on forming new Irish government

Sinn Fein path to power blocked as Fianna Fail rules out deal - lawmaker

Sinn Fein path to power blocked as Fianna Fail rules out deal - lawmaker

Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail and the center-right Fine Gael Party of Prime Minister Leo Varadkar secured just under a quarter of seats in parliament each, meaning it will be hard to form a government unless at least two of the three cooperate.

Fianna Fail won the most seats with 38, but Sinn Fein won 37 seats and the highest proportion of first preference votes following the general election on 8 February. Its vote nearly doubled to 24% on promises of mass state house-building, a rent freeze and across-the-board increases in public spending. Speaking to reporters, Varadkar said the onus was now on Sinn Fein to try and form a government, and try to implement its "socialist" agenda.

Fianna Fail's rejection of Ms McDonald's party raises the chances of Ireland being forced to go to the polls again in the coming months, a development analyst have said could further boost Sinn Fein, whose support surged 50% in last weekend's election in part due to anger at a housing crisis.

Senior Fianna Fail lawmaker Niall Collins told Reuters after today's meeting: 'We gave the party leader licence to speak to whoever he needs to speak to, with the exception of a Sinn Fein'.

Fianna Fail first plans to speak to smaller parties before its historic rival Fine Gael, which has 35 seats.

The Irish Times newspaper said Martin was expected to rule out such a coalition. He hinted he may work with other centrist parties if Sinn Fein couldn't form a government. Fine Gael has already ruled out a deal with Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein on Thursday effectively admitted it could not enter power without one of the two large parties, with Ms McDonald telling reporters it would be 'very, very tricky to construct such a government'.

But she said a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition would be "a slap in the face to the Irish electorate" who had clearly expressed a desire for change.

"I can not imagine who would be prepared to facilitate these two parties", she said. On Wednesday, the Labour party said it planned to remain in opposition.

Several Fianna Fail lawmakers, including McGrath, suggested the party could lead a minority government similar to the previous administration, led by Varadkar, that relied on a co-operation deal with Fianna Fail, then the main opposition party.

Fine Gael is less keen on a mirror image of the "confidence and supply" agreement that led to both parties losing seats. Now we wish to meet with Fianna Fail, and later on with Fine Gael.

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