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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 03:52 GMT 04:52 UK
Ahern rejects Sinn Fein coalition
Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern said that he would not enter a coalition with Sinn Fein
Republic of Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has ruled out a coalition with Sinn Fein as the country's voters prepare to go to the polls on Thursday.

Mr Ahern said differences between Sinn Fein and his Fianna Fail party were on policies.

He said they were "poles apart" on several issues.

With a close election result expected, the smaller parties and independent members could influence the make-up of the next government.

However, Mr Ahern said he did not believe the election outcome would result in a stalemate and that several combinations could emerge.

"I might not even be in the equation myself. Maybe others will form the numbers and they won't want me," he said.

"My job is to try and maximise every vote I can."

On Tuesday, Fine Gael said it was highlighting the government's "failure to deliver on past promises".

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the government had failed

Party leader Enda Kenny said: "Nothing says more about this government's complacency, arrogance and attitude than the images that we saw on Sunday with balloons and champagne and confetti coming down from the rafters at a Fianna Fail rally.

"Well I can tell you one thing, no-one lying on a trolley in a hospital corridor is popping any champagne corks."

Launching his party's manifesto, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said: "We are ready for government, north and south. Sinn Fein is a party of government."

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