Leo Varadkar, the health minister, has fired the first shots of the next general election campaign and warned that Sinn Féin’s failure to tell the truth about its past means it cannot be trusted in government.
Nobody believes that party leader Gerry Adams has nothing to answer about his past, he said last night.
Mr Varadkar — speaking at the MacGill Summer School during a debate with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald — also said voters needed to think about backing Fianna Fáil and about “handing the keys back to the party that crashed the car”.
“Sinn Féin fundamentally doesn’t trust the Irish people because they won’t tell them the truth about their past and nor will they be consistent in the policies that they preach North and south,” said Mr Varadkar. “I don’t really think that the public can trust Sinn Féin to be in government until Sinn Féin starts trusting the public and starts telling them the truth.”
In a double shot to his fellow speakers, he continued: “I have serious concerns about how their parties operate and have operated in the past. And here we have examples where trust has blinded us to the reality, and Irish life was damaged as a result. ”
He said Fianna Fáil had failed to question the personal finances of another former health minister, Charles J Haughey. On Sinn Féin, he said that the public did not believe the denials that Mr Adams had nothing to answer about his past.
However, Ms McDonald used the debate to hit out at the Government over the removal of medical cards.
“Fine Gael and Labour took the baton from their Fianna Fáil predecessors, ditched their pre-election promises, and carried on cutting,” she said.
Mr Martin claimed the Government hid details about property and water taxes and that budget details were withheld last year, as were details about the HSE’s concerns.
He called on the Coalition to haul in the Israeli ambassador and “articulate the outrage that Irish people genuinely feel on what is happening in Gaza”.
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