THE Social Democrats are “not ruling anyone in or anyone out” in terms of who they might do business with after the election, their candidate in Limerick city has said.
Sarah-Jane Hennelly was speaking after local Fianna Fail councillor Shane Clifford said he would be happy if his party went into government with the fledgling group, were the two to have enough seats.
Councillor Clifford also pledged to give Ms Hennelly his second preference vote at the general election, after his party colleague Willie O’Dea.
While Ms Hennelly welcomed Cllr Clifford’s remarks, and said he would get on with him on a personal level, she said it is important the Social Democrats forges its own identify before even considering pacts.
This, she said, was one of the reasons they declined to enter the pre-election Right2Change pact, which contains left-wing parties including Sinn Fein.
”At the moment, we are simply focusing on building our own party, and building a manifesto for the election. We are trying to establish ourselves as our own wholly independent party. We want to get a really solid foundation. We have a very long term view on things, and compromising our party’s own views and principles at this early stage would be counter-productive to us in terms of our own long-term commitment to the country and politics,” she said.
However, she added: “In a sense, people expect their parliament to get on with it. if there was a meeting on certain key areas, we could possibly work on something.”
Ms Hennelly ran against Cllr Clifford in last summer’s local elections, the former as an Independent candidate. While Cllr Cliford was elected on the first quota, Ms Hennelly missed out on a council seat by a small margin.
But, she says while the pair get on, they differ in terms of how things can be changed.
“He is a good guy, and has immense integrity. I like Shane as a person. But he had a different approach on how we would change things. He thought he could reform Fianna Fail from the inside, but I believe a new approach is needed in politics,” she said.
As for her own prospects, the UL graduate is “optimistic”. “There are a huge amount looking for a new political home in Limerick city, and I think what we are presenting to them is a sensible, reasonable, well thought out alternative.”