Ireland’s General Election has delivered historic change to the shape of the country’s political landscape, Mary Lou McDonald has declared.
Cheered by supporters as she arrived at the RDS count centre in Dublin, the triumphant Sinn Fein president said she agreed with the assessment that Ireland had witnessed a revolution at the ballot box.
“Obviously this election was all about change,” she said.
“Sinn Fein went to the people and we convinced them in very, very large numbers that we are the alternative, that we are the vehicle for change.
“We asked people to give us a chance to deliver the platform that we have set out and that platform is about solving the housing crisis, it is about getting to grips with the crisis in our health services, it is about giving families and workers a break and breathing space so that ordinary people begin to experience this economic recovery that they have heard so much about.”
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Mrs McDonald continued: “It’s been an election about change. The extraordinary thing is that it seems that the political establishment – and by that I mean Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – are in a state of denial. They are still not listening to what the people have said.”
Asked if the result marked a revolution in Irish politics, the party president replied: “Yes, you could call it that for sure.”
Mrs McDonald said the result marked a “big statement” that Ireland no longer had a two-party system.
“It’s a statement that people want a different type of government and people have great confidence in us, and I say that with all humility,” she said.
The republican leader promised a “grown up” approach to coalition talks, insisting she was willing to talk to everybody.
“I think that’s what democracy demands,” she said.
Revealing she had spoken to the Greens, the Social Democrats and the People Before Profit party on Sunday, she added: “I said throughout the campaign and I meant it that we need change, that we need a new government.
“The best outcome is with a government without Fianna Fail or Fine Gael so that’s the first thing I want to test, whether or not that’s possible.”
She said it was not sustainable for Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to continue to rule out entering a coalition with her party.
“This is not a protest vote,” she said.
“This is certainly an election that is historic in proportions, this is changing the shape and mould of Irish politics.
“This is not a transient thing – this is just the beginning.”